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!! 💗

Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali Review

Love From A To Z by S.K. AliLove From A To Z by S.K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads (Simon Pulse)

Release Date: April 30, 2019

Pages: 352

Available Through The Book Depository: Love From A To Z

Summary: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Love From A To Z is a marvel! This is a YA Contemporary that explores the introspective parts of ourselves and how life’s marvels and oddities allow us to navigate our world in different ways! S.K. Ali’s thought-provoking story explores family, grief, love, and deeply explores the harsh reality for many that face Islamaphobia. This novel balances the real and romantic, making it a complex and heart-warming contemporary story you don’t want to miss!

Love From A To Z is a novel that I know without a doubt were I to read again, would pick up on even more profound and deep messages that layered themselves into this gem of a story!

Zayneb Malik knows she was born angry. Its through this anger that she learns its for the right reasons, to challenge and speak up against the injustices around her. This includes speaking up against her Islamaphobic high school teacher, Mr. Fencer.

When her decision to speak up gets her suspended, she takes time to reflect and view things from a different perspective while in Doha, Qatar where she stays with her Auntie Nandy.

But as we learn from the very beginning, Love From A To Z is indeed a love story! Next, we are introduced to Adam Chen, who is tied to Zayneb in a very unique way.

What we quickly learn is that these eighteen-year olds carry a “Marvel & Oddities” journal to not only vent, but admire the world around them. Or more specifically, reflect on their own personal worlds that have shaped them in many ways.

What I loved was that there was a unique contrast to how they each used their journals. Adam is more optimistic, recording more of life’s marvels than oddities, which allow him to look at life more positively. His vow to live more, inspires him to look at these aspects of life that make it what it is. Zayneb sticks to more of the “thorns” or oddities in life, but through that it allows her to examine,ready, and prepare herself to take on the world and its wrongs.

However throughout their journey in Love From A To Z, we see these journal titles begin swapping among the two of them when destiny brings them closer together.

The use of 1st person and journal entries allowed me to connect to these wonderful main characters even more and understand them in a more introspective way! I also found that I really connected with Zayneb & Adam on a deeper, more personal level, through the fact that while I was reading I was also writing notes for each chapter, in the book’s format of diary entries.

Zayneb and Adam meet in the airport and on the same plane when their headed to Doha. Adam is taking a break from university and headed back to see his father and little sister Hanna. He’s also carrying a big secret he’s not entirely sure how to cope with himself, and its that he has Multiple Sclerosis. Throughout the novel as he tries to avoid the discussion with his loved ones for as long as possible (considering that’s also what his mother passed away from when he was 9), so Adam also goes on a journey of understanding what he wants from life going forward.

There’s an adoration they have for each other that subtly develops throughout the book and it was so beautiful to read about. I was smiling the entire time when they recognized each other and were attempting to strengthen their newly formed friendship, all while we knew how much they secretly liked each other! Their friendship/romance was easily one of the many highlights of this novel–their chemistry and dynamic was heartwarming to read and I–just loved them a lot!! Zayneb and Adam captured my heart and every time they were in scenes together…my heart couldn’t handle their cuteness!! 💖💖

This novel also explores faith in a beautiful way as we learn both Zayneb and Adam are Muslim. Faith is different for everyone and the way both of these inspiring protagonists see that to further connect them to one another and find this special bond, was heartwarming.

I loved exploring the layers and different facets to faith in this story. Zayneb is a hijabi-Muslim and proud of it. I admired her bravery and courage to correct others and just connect with the reader through her personal thoughts on faith and being Muslim.

Adam is also Muslim, but he converted around the age of 11 after his mother passed away. Faith for him is also a way to have that connection to his mother and find this deep and unique connection with Zayneb.

Going back to Zayneb and Adam as characters, I loved how incredibly real they became and when I reached the last page I was sobbing at how sad I was to be leaving these characters and their story.

Zayneb embraces her anger and its wonderful to read because its through this anger she finds the strength to combat against injustice in many forms. I respect and admire her anger and how its such an outward part of how she presents her values and beliefs on how wrongs should be dealt with. we don’t see that a lot in YA female characters and I respect/admire that a lot.

Compare that to Adam whose a more soft and quiet soul. However, its also through that we see his worries are channeled through a more reserved way of expressing the things he encounters in life.

Through Ali’s writing, not only is it beautiful and introspective, but it also allows the reader to fully understand and connect with our wonderful cast of characters on such deep level, aside from Zayneb and Adam: there’s Aunty Nandy, Zayneb’s parents, older brother and sister, Adam’s father, sister Hanna, the Emma’s, Zayneb’s grandmother (who we never actually meet), and Zayneb’s friends at home.

There’s layers to these characters that get uncovered as we progress through Adam and Zayneb’s journals and I love how Ali layered these different facets to their characters in such a great way.

One example comes that comes to mind is Adam’s sister Hanna! She becomes more of a main character throughout Love From A To Z and we see how she such leaves an impact on both Zayneb and Adam throughout their journeys.

Another quality they both share that is an essential part to their story and character was this element of hiding a facet of who they were. With Zayneb, it was keeping the angry part of her subdued for the sake of “peace” during her trip away and with that, she keeps this hidden from Adam in an attempt to reinvent this fundamental part of herself.

With Adam, it was this fear of uncertainty that he kept his MS hidden to ensure his loved ones wouldn’t have to grieve, especially his father who still struggles with the loss of his wife. From an early age, Adam learned the pain he felt with the loss of his mother had lessened over time because he kept all the vital memories of her, alive in his heart. However, throughout the book Adam learned to confront his fear with the strength of his family, faith, and memories of his mother.

They find that the more they keep these parts of themselves hidden, how increasingly difficult it became for them to come to fully embrace who they were with each other (which led to a certain point where they felt they didn’t really understand one another). That broke my heart because its clear there’s such a deeper connection between them and I turned page after page seeing where their relationship was headed.

An important part of this novel that was incredibly explored was the underlying journey Zayneb and Adam accept as they learn to better understand the vital parts of their personalities that shape who they are and want to become!

Love From A To Z is also wonderfully diverse from the story taking place mainly in Qatar, it centers around our main characters Zayneb who is 1/2 Pakistani and West Indian and Adam who is a Canadian with a Chinese & Finnish background. There’s also many facets and layers to Muslim and Hijabi culture that’s explored as well.

In addition, Love From A To Z also deeply analyzes many themes which makes it such a complex and moving contemporary story. From the exploration of grief, loss, layers of love, and the very present topic of Islamaphobia and the pain felt by those who experience microaggressions because people aren’t willing to look past their close-minded views.

Above all, Love From A To Z is about the marvels and oddities that Adam & Zayneb grasp/hold onto, which influences how they see the world around them and choose to act.

Love From A To Z a thought-provoking, romantic, and immersive YA Contemporary! Unique in every way, the fantastic cast of characters, magnificent writing, deeply explored themes, with two leads that will capture your heart! S.K. Ali’s latest contemporary story is one that will captivate you start to finish!

Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson Review

Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret RogersonSorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Pages: 456

Available Through The Book Depository: Sorcery Of Thorns

Summary: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Sorcery Of Thorns is the latest novel from Margaret Rogerson, its a book that’s enchanting, immersive, and weaves together a tale that pays homage to the power of books!

Elisabeth Scrivener was orphaned, but taken in to the Great Library of Summershall where she grew up surrounded by books and wants nothing more than to become a warden, moving up the ranks from an apprentice librarian!

She continues her studies and knows she is nowhere near ready, so it’s of course a surprise when the Director calls her to assist in moving a grimoire into their facility. This not only ensures its well sealed, but examined and the text within it preserved for the future.

A grimoire comes to life one night that leads Elisabeth on an adventure across the kingdom where she gets tangled up in forbidden sorcery and complicated magic that threatens her world! She stops at nothing to uncover secrets and solve the mystery of grimoires that have become dangerous monsters, aka Maleficts.

With the Director’s death, we see that it acts as catalyst for Elisabeth to take action! I really loved how you could see the Director was a mother figure to her (wanting to show her potential) and it was through the little actions that Elisabeth did in which we saw that her mentor would have been proud, in using her knowledge to help others! Though we see the Director really did have a lot of faith in Elisabeth by leaving her Demonslayer and reminding her that her there is so much to the world of the Great Libraries that leave her many options.

Throughout Sorcery Of Thorns, Rogerson weaves mystery, intrigue, adventure, and as a standalone, I appreciated how all these different elements we’re layered into the story.

According to a feature interview from Kirkus, its mentioned that the journey Elisabeth embarks on mirrors Rogerson’s own upbringing learning more about the religion she grew up with.

“As a teenager, I was discovering a lot of things about the world that were very contrary to what I had always been told as absolute truth…”

As Elisabeth steps away from her world of libraries, she learns more about the world around her and is shocked by the sexism and other societal norms she’s never encountered before.

As a YA Fantasy standalone I loved how Rogerson layered not only the themes of this story, but also the clever foreshadowing, character development, exploration of the world, and plotting!

The way she structured Sorcery Of Thorns was done in such a brilliant way where I was always surprised at the littlest of details! She’d find ways to bring them back 50 or so pages later that had me amazed at how descriptions of characters, backstory, etc. played such a huge part as we uncovered more about the direction of the story.

As an aspiring YA Fantasy writer, I found she explored a lot of different elements in very interesting ways from the growth of Elisabeth and her finding her way, to the layers of world-building that slowly unfold, even the direction of the plot. I felt that the way she weaved all these elements together left me inspired as a writer and I’m looking forward to rereading this book again in the future–maybe annotating it to uncover more that I may not have noticed before!

Told through a 3rd person POV, Rogerson not only allows us to follow Elisabeth on her journey, but also allows us to understand the new friends and people she meets along the way! From sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, his demon servant/best friend Silas, the Director, Elisabeth’s best friend Katrien, even Ashcroft!

Honestly though, if I had to pick my favorite characters, I’d say that I loved Elisabeth, Nathaniel, Silas, & the Director all equally!

There’s not only insight into the main characters, but also the world of Asustermeer and its 5 libraries, the Otherworld of demons where Silas comes from, and even the world of grimoires.

Rogerson’s descriptive writing builds a gritty, dark, and expansive world, unlike any I’ve ever read before! There’s dark magic, but also threads of hope, adventure, moments of humor–overall there’s a lot of different tones and atmospheres to this story that get uncovered and cements itself into this magical tale! Even the tiniest of details from the green sparkles of Nathaniel’s magic to the metallic smell of sorcery made the setting feel lived in and very grounded in reality because we had so many different layers to explore.

Sorcery Of Thorns is the kind of book that even though the writing at times is heavily descriptive, you still want to keep reading! I felt the writing style really brought a lot to this book! The world always felt real and really came to life.

What surprised me as well was seeing how Elisabeth’s world of libraries and magical books completely contrasted what the world was like in Austermeer. Where librarians see sorcerers as nothing but trouble and pure evil, outside they are celebrated and seen as average people. She learns more about not only sorcerers, but demons as she changes her perspective on Nathaniel & Silas when they team up to protect the world.

“― what had it called her?

A true child of the library…”

In terms of the foreshadowing, I found that I was more surprised than anything. As mentioned above Rogerson, weaved in the smallest details into the plot where I was not expecting and I loved that although I realized it less than 1/2 way through, they still managed to be unexpected. They were used really effectively and for so many descriptions to be used to further the plot in such an interesting way, it was something I really enjoyed!

Specifically, I personally loved how we knew who the villain was early on! Not only did it offer more action and intrigue into the story, but what makes it fun is that your constantly left theorizing of what he’ll be plotting next. That was great because we kept learning more, figured out how his plan would impact the world and how his schemes are constantly influencing the world in a lot of ways (going after each library and the consequences of going after all the top Class 8-10 grimoires).

Its not explored until Elisabeth learns more about both Nathaniel & Ashcroft’s pasts, but I really appreciated the importance of family, legacy, and remembering the family that has come before you. It wasn’t until I finished Sorcery where this really symbolized Elisabeth too, growing up orphaned in the library, seeing the Director as a role model/parental figure to look up to, keeping her legacy/teachings alive by saving the world from Grimoiers. I also loved how this journey showed Elisabeth that although she hasn’t found exactly where she wants to be yet, that’s okay because there’ll always new paths open to her!

This is also really random, but the further I read, I loved when I learned why this book is called Sorcery Of Thorns! 😭💖💫🌿

Now I wanted to get into more discussion on why I personally rated this novel 4 stars!

It’s no surprise that I was really looking forward to this book because I adored Rogerson’s debut  An Enchantment Of Ravens and had already seen so many glowing + 5-star reviews!

Although 4 stars is definitely not a bad rating in any way, there were just a few things I wanted to explore that lowered the rating for me personally.

So, as an aspiring writer its no surprise that I really want to work on the craft of writing. With that, I couldn’t help but notice that from my reading experience, I picked up on quite a few writing cues and familiar turns of phrase that took me a bit out of the story.

Also with the very direct descriptions I found the pacing was very uneven at times. There were moments the story moved constantly, but then it was stopped abruptly, it happened a while throughout the story and it was just hard for me to love the book fully because of it.

Also, while I completely understand what Rogerson was doing showing these two different sides to the world of Austermeer (librarians & the regular world), I wasn’t exactly a fan of the sexism and old-era ways of thinking. For example, there’s a scene in which Elisabeth is trying to explain the villain’s plot of using the grimoire’s & how he plans to attack each library. But, she gets seen as “mad” and is almost left to be put into a hospital.

Early on, I personally saw this world as its own universe, so I really didn’t understand why these old ways of thinking had to be present (hope that makes sense??). I see how the author used it to show the strength of the female characters when they’re in the libraries and how it differs from the realities of their world, but I found it was just kind of frustrating to read at times.

Throughout the book I was left thinking: There’s powerful/brave female characters here, but outside a Great Library position their not seen as equal to men & so quickly judged?

And lastly, while the writing is definitely a strength of Sorcery, I also found it was its weakness at points. Because the writing is so descriptive and so “perfect”,  it made the story and its flow somewhat dense. With that, certain setting descriptions made it difficult at points to picture certain elements of the world, setting, and characters (though this was definitely in more specific moments).

Overall though, this was another fun fantasy standalone from Margaret Rogerson and I’m looking forward to seeing what she publishes next!

Sorcery Of Thorns is a novel that’s packed with so many complex layers and they all find their way into the story from beginning to end that will leave the reader satisfied! There’s magic, sorcery, a great cast of characters, beautiful writing, and so much more that cement Rogerson as a master in YA Fantasy standalones! 

2019 Winter + Spring Wrap-Up

You may have noticed, since January, I haven’t really posted a single wrap-up, there’s a couple of reasons for that:

1: I was starting to feel burned out doing wrap-ups each month & though I loved my new format, it was just starting to get a bit tiring for me!

2: I’ve been working on some new blog projects, posts, etc. and that’s been taking up a lot of my time:

The biggest one, which I hope you’ll check out is a new bookish website I launched called The Booked Shelf!! 😆📚✨🎉🎊

The Booked Shelf was inspired by my Book Bytes feature! I explain more about my inspiration for launching it on the site, but basically if you want to stay updated on the latest YA book news from cover reveals, adaptation news, and more, I recommend giving it a look!

I also started The Traveling ARC Project back in May to get #OwnVoices ARCs to more #OwnVoices readers/reviewers! It went pretty well for my first time putting something like this together! 

I am also planning one for the fall and I’m really looking forward to it! My next Traveling ARC Project will be for Sara Faring’s The Tenth Girl!  😍💞

and 3: I just haven’t been reading as much as I have in the past–which is fine with me because I get to spend more time focusing on the quality of book over quantity, but that meant I wasn’t as motivated to post wrap-ups either because I felt they would be pretty brief anyways!

For my future wrap-ups on the blog though, I’m planning on them being seasonal so I can take more time to talk about the books I’ve read over a longer period! I’m looking forward to sharing not just my thoughts on the book but other factors as well!

So with that said, so far in the year of 2019 throughout Winter & Spring, I’ve read a total of 23 books! 😍💞📚✨🌸❄

My first book of 2019 was:

Fierce Fairytales Poems And Stories To Stir Your Soul by Nikita GillFierce Fairytales: Poems And Stories To Stir Your Soul by Nikita GillLibrary ∣ Started January 1 + Finished January 2 ∣ My Rating:★★★★☆

With every start to the new year I always make it a goal to have my first book be a poetry book! I’d heard of Nikita Gill before, but Fierce Fairytales was my first collection from her! Within this collection she not only included poems, but short stories too. She weaves modern twists & inspiring messages into this collection that transforms classic fairy tales!

The first 2019 book that I rated 5-stars was:

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshiThe Gilded Wolves  ARC∣ Started January 3 + Finished January 8 ∣ My Rating: ★★★★★

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi: I could gush about this book all day–I adored it! From the lush and descriptive writing, immersive setting of 1880’s Paris, scheming & heists!! Also Séverin, Enrique, Tristan, Zofia & Laila captured my heart and I adopted them all from page 1! 😭🌸✨💞

With The Gilded Wolves, this was also the first book that inspired a new blog feature, Reading Diary! I hope to get back to this feature again with upcoming books, but essentially I tracked my reading progress each day and wrote my thoughts in real-time on what I’d read so far!

Also inspired by new/upcoming releases I created these new blog features too:

1Bookish Theories:

I was inspired to create this feature while scrolling through twitter and seeing all the books people were excited for! Bookish Theories is a post where I list my thoughts or theories on what I think will happen in a book before its released–the book that started it all was: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (which I still need to read 😂✨)

2Bookish Buzz

This feature was created because I always find books that are upcoming/newer releases that need more buzz surrounding them! So through this feature I plan to share anticipated releases that I want to promote more and spread the word about them!

My first post was titled  Bookish Buzz: Upcoming Books That Need More Hype!

Out of all the books I’ve read so far this year, here’s one with the lowest amount of Goodreads ratings, but I highly recommend checking it out because I think this book is really great!
↠ Its also diverse + #ownvoices (Latinx YA)

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues1.The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues

Told through a past & present POV, Marco Suarez in his senior year of high school, who has everything planned out. But, he wasn’t expecting his childhood friend Sally to return so suddenly after having disappeared since freshman year and he can’t seem to ignore his first spark with Sally!

I’d say out of all the books I’ve read so far in 2019, this book is probably the most underrated! It focuses on friendship, love, family, and is also such an impactful and moving story that reminds us its the little moments in life that can shape who we are!

The cast is not only incredibly diverse, with Dominican, Korean/Jewish rep., but also featuring the main character Marco & his family who are Cuban-American!

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues is such a relatable YA Contemporary that stresses the importance of the little moments in life and the important people within it, that shape us into who we are!

I can’t recommend this book enough, please pick it up if your looking for a new YA Contemporary to immerse yourself in!

Out of the 3 sequels that I’ve read so far this year, my favorite has been:

The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault RiveraThe Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera

This is the sequel to one of my all-time favorite epic fantasy The Tiger’s Daughter! As far as sequels go, The Phoenix Empress has to be one of the most memorable I’ve read so far in 2019! It expands on the world of Hokkaro, introduces a lot of great new characters, and delves deeper into empress O’ Shizuka! I don’t want to spoil much, but it expands on the lore, world, and if your looking for a series with a dynamic cast of wonderful female characters, this is a great series!!

I also read 2 books that could be categorized as nonfiction and of them, my favorite was:

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

This beautifully illustrated and heartwarming picture book, chronicles and celebrates influential storyteller, librarian, and author Pura Belpré! She moves from Puerto Rico to New York, while carrying the stories and folktales she grew up hearing from her abuela!

It also chronicles her achievements as she continued her work as the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City!

Planting Stories also emphasizes the importance of diversity in storytelling and its impact, and above all, celebrates the power of stories!

Dark Of The West by Joanna HathawayAlso out of the 23 reviews I’ve written so far in 2019, my favorite review would have to be for Joanna Hathaway’s Dark Of The West!

I did a little bit of research about Hathaway’s inspiration for Dark Of The West and I felt it added something more to my review! Additionally, I just loved how I explored the different elements of the story, characters, setting, etc. alongside my personal interpretations of this wonderful book!

I also wrote one of my first discussion posts back in June titledSlice Of Life Fantasy + Book Recommendations, where I explain this unique genre of stories I particularly enjoy and offer some recommendations from manga , middle grade, even graphic novels!😍✨💞🍃

And to conclude this seasonal wrap-up, this is my most recent read & a book I HIGHLY recommend you add to your TBR:

The Best Lies by Sarah LyuThe Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

Release Date: July 2, 2019

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu ARC Review

If you follow me on twitter, than you’d know how much I’ve been freaking out about how amazing this book is and that this a book that I need more people to check out!

Told through a past and present POV, The Best Lies is an incredibly introspective novel that explores friendship, love, and trauma. We follow our main character Remy, whose boyfriend Jack has just been killed, but here’s the thing—its her best friend Elise who did it, but she can’t remember exactly what happened!

Now, as she becomes part of an investigation into his death, she has to recount her memories with her best friend Elise as she uncovers the truth about what happened!

This novel explores a lot of heavy topics such as toxic friendship and abuse, however, I can’t put into words just how much I fell in love with the main characters Remy and Elise!  They really came to life and this is easily one of my favorite YA Contemporary/Mystery debuts of the year & all-time!!

So I don’t want to spoil much more than that, but I hope you check out Lyu’s debut–its fantastic!! 😭💞✨

Thanks so much for joining me in my first seasonal wrap-up!! 😍💞🌸❄📚

What have been some of your favorite books so far this year? Any you recommend?

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu ARC Review

The Best Lies by Sarah LyuThe Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: July 2, 2019

Pages: 352

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Best Lies

Summary: Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

*tw: for toxic friendship, mention/discussion of abuse, trauma, & moments of gaslighting

*Requested an ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Best Lies is a 2019 YA debut that’s a must read for fans of mystery! Remy Tsai recounts her friendship with her best friend Elise during an investigation when her boyfriend Jack is killed. The story follows a brilliant narrative told through past and present POV that weaves together perfectly! Lyu’s debut is an introspective look at love, the complex bonds of friendship, and trauma!

What inspired me to read this book originally, was the summary and gorgeous cover! But, I’d also loved that the story itself would be focusing on friendship and had a mystery to solve, because I personally don’t read many of them or if I do, I’m pretty selective. So, I took the opportunity to request a copy and I’m incredibly happy I did! There’s so many positive things I have to say about this book because throughout its entirety it kept exceeding my expectations, getting better and better!

The Best Lies is a thought-provoking novel, layered with mystery that unravels a complex view of friendship! It will grip you from the very beginning!

“The best lies are at least half true..”

Katherine “Remy” Tsai’s boyfriend Jack, is dead. She can’t remember how it happened exactly, but when the police get involved, she has no choice but to recount what happened as part of an investigation. As she sifts through one years worth of memories between her and her best friend Elise, the truth of their friendship slowly unravels!

But there’s also some issues, Remy wants to desperately protect Elise (knowing she was involved) and seems to have blacked out during an ominous 14 minutes leading up to her boyfriend’s death.

At the start of this timeline we quickly learn that all Remy is desperate to do is escape the hardships in her life–her parents constant fighting, living with a brother whose seen as perfect by her mother, and her group of friends, quickly growing distant. That all changes on homecoming night after Remy has just been dumped by her boyfriend and is comforted by new student, Elise Ferro. Elise quickly allows Remy to understand that her happiness in any relationship is the most important and Remy finds herself in awe at Elise’s wisdom and this energy between the two of them because in those moments everything disappears and Remy finds this unmatched strength within her–they can conquer anything that gets in their way!

The two instantly click and become the best of friends! Whether its talking openly with one another, confiding in each other, or putting in effort to hang out and get out of their shells a bit more (like driving around & attending parties together). Remy also respects Elise for her fearlessness. As Remy finds herself continuously pulled into Elise’s orbit, we see they quickly begin relying on each other and promise to be at each others sides no matter what, but the bond between them slowly begins to change.

As they support and confide in each another, we learn that Elise’s life isn’t all too great either. She struggles to share her devastating personal life with Remy in the early stages of their friendship, but we soon learn more about it as she opens up: Elise lives with an abusive father and she’s lived with the fact that she  her estranged mother abandoned her at a young age, only to see her 9 years later at her funeral.

Elise quickly introduces Remy to her world of pranks to get back at those who’ve wronged others– this happens on the first night they meet when Elise persuades Remy to set fireworks near her ex-boyfriends room. Elise sees herself as somewhat of a vigilante, helping those who’ve been wronged by exes, former loves, or female classmates being bullied (This is made clear throughout the Kill Bill movies they watch together & the references that are made more apparent as the story progresses).

Their friendship which starts off loving and supportive, slowly alters into something toxic, that both Elise and Remy can’t seem to escape.

You know when you finish a book that has captivated you from the beginning & you finally reach the last page in disbelief that its over?? That’s what reading Lyu’s debut was like! This book has easily made it to my list of favorite books of the year & all time–this book ruined me…(;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) It was SO GOOD, but also heartbreaking!! I’m not sure how I’ll recover; The Best Lies was–just utterly phenomenal and I’m broken…

There’s just so much I have to say about this phenomenal book from its brilliant use of past and present POV, the writing which shows Lyu’s attention/care to her characters, and the spectacular way the plot unfolds. The Best Lies also offers an incredibly introspective look at friendship while chronicling Remy & Elise’s story throughout each and every page.

Friendship throughout this novel is many things for Remy and Elise–it’s a home, it’s love, but it’s also complicated, messy, and obsessive.

The depth of their friendship and why that is such an important foundation for people in their lives, was something that Lyu explored so heavily in this novel!! Friendship is something incredibly important to me and I loved how Lyu really developed that message through her writing.

The main characters from Remy to Elise, Remy’s parents, Christian, Jack, Remy + Elise’s other friends like Melody, Julie, Jae, and others– all feel so incredibly real in ways I can’t explain. You understand this depth to their hearts, their pain, their expectations, and even the hurt they feel (especially Remy, Elise, and her parents).

More on the writing, its a style unlike any I’ve ever really read before. Its kind of hard to explain unless you read it for yourself– you really get in the character’s head space and are pretty in-tune with their emotional state. Lyu’s writing is just incredibly good and if your looking for a novel that really shows you the depth of a character’s inner thoughts, emotions, and is layered with focus on its characters and pays attention to detail, you’d really love the writing-style in The Best Lies!

Throughout the novel, Remy struggles with the fact she isn’t the typical daughter her parents expect her to be. She smokes, isn’t taking expected AP classes like her friend Melody, and isn’t “perfect” like her older brother Christian. Lyu also explores Remy’s internal battle between her expectations and who she really is, feeling like she will always be the disappointment in her parents eyes.

I loved the relationship between Remy & Jack. They meet when Elise “abandons” her at a party and they develop this beautiful relationship that allows them to learn more about love and growth! I adored their scenes together so much because you know how much they love and care for each other!! (Also the text scene between Remy & Jack about his dog Lola was the cutest (´▽`ʃƪ) 💞 Jack’s backstory was heartbreaking, reading about his parents abandonment only to lose his grandpa (who practically raised him) a few years later. + Jack’s confession that he started swimming again because of her was so beautiful!!

Expanding on the pranks, I found they were also a brilliant metaphor for many different aspects of the story! They represent Elise’s fire, determination, and complex emotions she keeps bottled inside due to her neglect (with each prank getting more intense than the last). Similar to the Pink Caddy & Mansion, the pranks also represent this cement in their friendship, which keep them coming back to each other.

What also made this book so emotionally gripping was that you root for Elise and Remy because you see how they become this anchor in each others lives. But, knowing how the story ends–you still don’t expect it until you see the threads of their friendship slowly unraveling through their actions–your still heartbroken anyways.

I don’t want to spoil exactly what happens near the end, but when truths are revealed, I sobbed so much! Understanding the truth of their friendship and where it was headed hurt most of all.

Remy learns a lot over the course of this story about trauma and not only how it impacts someone’s life, but also what it can represent. Again I don’t want to give exact spoilers but throughout The Best Lies, Elise teaches Remy about trauma can make you stronger and if she’s survived thus far, she can make it through anything! Those were incredibly inspiring messages, but Remy (with Jack’s help) also learns that often time that pain is something to just something to accept, learn from, and move on! Both messages weave themselves perfectly into the story and develop at such pivotal points in the plot!

Lyu also includes an incredibly open authors note within the ARC which delves more into the themes explored throughout The Best Lies. I can’t put into words how admired I am of Lyu to include this message and how the themes hit close to home for her. The themes explored throughout this book feel just so real and you sense that through the complex main heroines of Remy and Elise!

Overall this debut just resonated with me in so many ways, I could sympathize so much with main characters, understand their hardships and connect with the story on such an introspective level. Although I’ve never personally experienced topics like these explored throughout the book, the deep exploration of friendship, its incredibly complex layers, and how people’s past (or trauma) just impacts them in many intricate ways is something that Lyu develops so so incredibly well!

The Best Lies is an utterly brilliant mystery thriller novel with a deeply layered, complex view on friendship, trauma, and so much more! Lyu’s debut explores so many themes, provides an introspective look at its main cast, and brilliantly unfolds the tale of an intricate friendship that turns to obsession! 

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu comes out in July and its a fantastic debut, so definitely pick this book up!

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues ARC Review

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen RodriguesThe Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: March 19, 2019

Pages: 432

Available Through The Book Depository: The Universal Laws Of Marco

Summary: Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Requested ARC through the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Universal Laws Of Marco is a YA Contemporary that follows Marco Suarez in his senior year of high school, who has everything planned out! But, he wasn’t expecting his best friend Sally to return so suddenly, after disappearing before freshman year! With this complicating the plan he’s set for himself, we also delve into the past to unravel what happened between Sally & Marco! Carmen Rodrigues crafts a character-driven and thought-provoking story you don’t want to miss!

Carmen Rodrigues’s The Universal Laws Of Marco is probably one of the most underhyped YA Contemporary books I’ve seen & read so far this year! If your looking for a contemporary story that’s real, moving, impactful, while also having a focus on friendship, love, & family, then this is the book to pick up! It’s really good!

Marco Suarez has everything planned his senior year, his scholarship is set for Wayne University in the fall, he’s working a job at a local supermarket with his best friend Diego & has a girlfriend, Erika!

But his life gets a bit more complicated when his first love & genius track star, Sally Blake returns suddenly, after leaving right before the start of 9th grade and never keeping in-touch.

So with Sally’s return, Marco still can’t ignore that first spark! Sally and Marco have been best friends since they were little and nothing kept them apart. Things change during summer before 8th Grade when Sally & Marco kiss. But throughout that last year of middle school, there are moments that cause Sally and Marco to drift apart, up until Sally leaves.

I know I mentioned this already, but this is easily one of the most underrated YA Contemporary releases I’ve read so far this year!! Its not just a story about reminiscing on first-love, its about change, growth, family, friendship, choices, life, and the moments in life that shape who we are.

Because I spent weeks reading The Universal Laws Of Marco, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when I reached the end because I’d become so attached to the characters, connect with themes of the story, & overall just really fell in love with the book as a whole!

Rodrigues delivers such an immersive and especially character-driven story as we jump between Marco’s past/middle school years with Sally, up until her disappearance. Through this POV, we unravel that mystery as to what led Sally to leave not only Marco, but their entire friend group: Sookie, Jade, & Diego!

While in the present, we follow not only Marco’s school life, but also his family: mother, little brothers, and father, who hasn’t been quite himself since an accident that happened during Marco’s last year of middle school (which gets explored throughout the story).

Another mysterious plot point that gets unraveled throughout the story, was the injury that left Marco’s dad not entirely himself for the past few years. It was heart-breaking to read about and how it changed the Suarez family so much (also with Marco having to take up even more responsibility to help the family through financially tough times).

I loved that although the rest of the friend group was unsure whether to let Sally back in, Marco was still trying to reconnect with her even after they drifted apart. Though this novel is really Marco’s story, it’s also Sally’s story too! Because we learn so much about her through Marco’s eyes and how he was such an important part in her life, that when we see that Sally again, we notice that she really is still recovering from those years after she left and above all, just doesn’t want to be alone.

It broke my heart because, although Marco was with Erika, he obviously never forgot Sally, but was just so unsure of how to approach her again. He struggles throughout the story trying to reconnect with her because she too also feels guilty about leaving them behind and returning when so much has changed.

While Marco was with Erika, I felt both sad & happy for him at the same time! After learning Erika’s backstory and how she impacted Sally’s dynamic with Marco in the past, you also don’t feel upset with her either because she was there for Marco during his dad’s recovery. This was during a time when Marco was feeling lost and alone not only about his dad & how it impacted the family, but also with Sally no longer there.

The use of alternate past/present POV was so well done! I never felt lost jumping back between the two timelines and the way Rodrigues plotted them both out was brilliantly explored, because it kept me guessing as to what led Sally to leave, how Marco would try to reconnect with her again, and still remembering how close they used to be!

Although the summary puts a focus on the romance, that’s not really what this story is about! Its about so much more than that, I can’t really put it into words. There’s definitely an uncertainty if Sally and Marco will ever fully reconnect again and Rodrigues did such a phenomenal job at really leaving the reader guessing where their relationship would be headed.

There’s also such a big focus on friendship that you wouldn’t really know just based on the summary! Marco & Diego’s friendship is also one of the highlights of this book! It has its ups/downs, moments of humor, but it also explores trust, communication, and the support of friends that’s incredibly important during complicated moments in life! Its explored mainly through a sub-plot where Marco & Diego are unknowingly after the same job of manager, when Marco decides not to tell Diego out of fear it would ruin their friendship.

The writing itself is fantastic! I never once felt out of the story and was immediately brought back into the plot through Marco’s POV! With Marco’s love of physics, I also loved how terms/concepts really weaved  their way into the story to make it incredibly thought-provoking and realistic!

As for diversity, this novel centers around a Cuban-American family (Marco’s), Diego, Marco’s best friend whose Dominican, & Sookie another one of Marco’s friends, whose Korean, Jewish and adopted.

Overall, everything about this book from the writing, characters, character-development, themes, dynamics, and pacing made this book feel so incredibly real and relatable in ways I can’t really explain.

My only minor issue was that pacing was a bit slow in parts, but aside from that, this was a phenomenal YA Contemporary and I recommend everyone read it if their looking for a real and thought-provoking story!

The Universal Laws Of Marco is a remarkable YA Contemporary with so much depth and one deserves a lot more love! It explores a variety of themes from family to friendship, while also being a relatable contemporary story which stresses the moments in life and people within it, that change our lives! The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues is more than just contemporary romance and is a YA novel well worth reading!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dystopia

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

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

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

Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

Science Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 2019 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

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

January 2019

Contemporary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporary Mystery

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

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

Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Fiction

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

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

Historical Fantasy

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

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

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

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

Mythology

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

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

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

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

Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?

Retellings

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

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

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

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

 

November 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean1.Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean 

ARC| Started November 2 + Finished November 8 | My Rating: ★★★★☆ | Empress Of All Seasons ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Empress Of All Seasons is a wonderfully character-driven YA Fantasy that’s inspired by deeply woven Japanese Mythology! There’s intrigue, action, politics, adventure, and rising rebellion! Mari is part Yokai (those who have the ability to transform into monsters or other supernatural creatures) and we soon learn her mother has been training her all her life to prepare her for a competition in the royal palace where all female contestants must battle within the 4 seasonal rooms for the prince’s hand in marriage! Mari definitely had a bit of an anti-hero vibe which I loved so much! Told through 3 POV’s we follow Mari, her childhood friend Akira, & Prince Taro! The character-development and plot are explored in ways you don’t really expect and the world is incredibly immersive. Though the pacing was a bit uneven at times and the writing was rather direct & simplistic, above all Empress was a book that really subverted tropes and expectations as the story developed!

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri2.Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri (The Books Of Ambha #1)

ARC |Started November 9 + Finished November 12 | My Rating:★★★★★ |Empire Of Sand ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Empire Of Sand has easily become one of my favorite books of all-time and I HIGHLY recommend this utterly fantastic epic fantasy debut! Set in a world inspired by India’s Mughal Empire, we follow Mehr who’s the daughter of a governor who is 1/2 Ambhan & Amrithi (those descended from desert spirits). When her Amrithi powers put her in jeopardy, she must now embark on a journey and leave her family behind to a religious temple taken there by Mystics while, through complex circumstances, she becomes married to a fellow Amrithi (Amun). The two learn more about each other and the power they have when faced with important choices and a mysterious and important religious figure in the temple! One of my absolute favorite elements of Empire was the dynamics between Mehr & the other characters (especially Amun <3). The writing is lush, vibrant and allows you to connect with everything from the characters, world, complex themes, etc.! I can’t put into words just how phenomenal this book is! I loved everything about it, from the writing, story, deeply explored & complex themes of choice, love, family, and so much more! The richly detailed story is immersive, magical, & complex! Suri’s debut is not one to miss and I’m incredibly excited to see where the series is headed!

Fields Of Fire by Hannah West3.Fields Of Fire by Hannah West (The Nissera Chronicles #1.5)

Owned | Started + Finished November 16 |My Rating: ★★★★☆ | Fields Of Fire Full Review

Overall Thoughts: An immersive novella that brings reader’s back to the land of Nissera from West’s debut, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! This short story runs parallel to KOAAB and follows a group of spies as they attempt to uncover the identity of an alchemist linked with a dangerous weapon that could turn the tides of war! Following Drell, Reed, Gannan, & Skye–they scope out a local inn and attempt to gather intel. What made this novella so much fun was how through West’s writing, you were easily immersed in the story and action. One of my favorite dynamics was Drell & Gannan as they go undercover as a couple at the inn! There’s a good amount of backstory for such a short novella. My only minor issues are that the world itself did take me a bit to fully re-connect with and there were minor/side characters I wish had more development. However, this novella above all is a tale that is filled with intrigue as it builds a little more into the Nissera Chronicles and left me absolutely excited to dive into Realm Of Ruins the companion/spin-off!

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada4.This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (This Mortal Coil #2)

Library | Started November 17 + Finished November 21 | My Rating: ★★★★☆ | This Cruel Design Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Suvada’s sequel delivers on even more depth and exploration in terms of Cat as a character and her past, the world, even the technology introduced in This Mortal Coil! As Cat is faced with the conflict of the past she knows vs. the past everyone else remembers of her, she is faced with loneliness and we learn much more about her life as Jun Bei! Cat & the crew are tasked with finding Lachlan and an antidote to a quickly mutating virus. There’s new characters (like Mato–who really surprised me) and a more centralized focus on the characters and city of Entropia which really allowed for a unique kind of depth! However, I did sadly take off a star with the fact that we already know the end-goal going into TMC, I found the pacing to be really slow and the introduction of a character later into the story, which I found to really take away from the centralized group already in the story! However, the plot was great and I loved the character-development and as with Suvada’s ending to This Mortal Coil, This Cruel Design leaves you wanting the next book right away!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Literary Travels feat. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

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

2018 Reads Giveaway List! for my current Giveaway on Twitter

~ For November 2018, overall I had a pretty solid reading month, but I was expecting to read a couple more books! 😭📚✨

Plans For December:

~ With this being the last month of 2018, I want to try & finish up some 2018 releases that I’ve kept on my TBR throughout this year and have really been looking forward to reading! 😍❤📚

~ Share a podcast review that has been sitting in my drafts for the past month 🎙✨😂 Its a really great podcast and I’m really looking forward to recommending it!

~ I want to try and beat my previous amount of books read in 2017 (which was 72)! Hopefully it’ll happen? I have 10+ books I want to finish before 2019, so I’m going to try & stick to it! 📚🍀✨

~ Finalize some 2019 posts, hopefully share some 2018 TBR Lists & maybe a yearly wrap-up? (I’m still thinking about it 😂✨📚📚)

This has been my November 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in November? & What’s on your End-Of-The-Year TBR? 😍📚📚✨

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada Review

This Cruel Design by Emily SuvadaThis Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (This Mortal Coil #2)

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: October 30, 2018

Pages: 394

Summary: The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: This Cruel Design is a sequel that will keep you guessing till the very end! Suvada’s latest book delivers even more twists, new characters, intrigue, action, and a complex plot that changes everything you thought you knew about This Mortal Coil!

Okay–so I loved This Mortal Coil when I read it last year, was on the edge of my seat till the very last page and I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d even manage to wait for This Cruel Design!

So, its safe to say I went into this book with extremely high expectations.

Sequels aren’t easy, but the way Suvada builds on the world and technology all while making the plot go in such unexpected directions is what really surprised me!

It goes into even much more depth and exploration in such a more centralized way (focusing more on Cat) than in This Mortal Coil which made it incredibly unique!

Cat and the crew find themselves in Cartaxus’s grasp and still have hope they can find a solution to the virus that keeps on mutating faster than they expected. So, they find a lead that sends them on a journey to a city of genehackers in the Nevada desert!

They are given 3 days to seek out Regina, the leader of Entropia (city of genehackers) and continue their search for Lachlan and find an antidote!

Cat is coming to terms with the secrets she uncovered in This Mortal Coil, but isn’t losing hope that humanity can still be saved!

There’s new characters and even more development on the fascinating technology explored through the panels and what they are capable of!

The panels from what we know in This Mortal Coil, can be home to a variety of apps and code that can manipulate a person’s appearance and abilities! However, what Suvada does in This Cruel Design is that that she seamlessly introduces numerous hidden facets to these panels that leave us questioning this idea of power and the capabilities of what people can do with them, but also how it can also link people together!

Suvada leaves you thinking about the ramifications of this advanced technology, even with all the benefits it has and I loved how it showed both the dark and light side to the tech she introduced in This Mortal Coil!

If your looking for even more exploration to the intriguing technology–this sequel delivers on that and so much more!

What also makes This Cruel Design such a fascinating sequel is how it explores so many different sides to the characters and world in ways you don’t really expect.

As memories begin to resurface, Cat is coming to terms with a past she barley knows, but that’s inevitably forcing her to question all her choices that’s led her there and what it means for her and those who knew her as Jun Bei.

That conflict was explored through different moments and characters throughout the story, really builds a past we can fully see and realize as This Cruel Design develops.

Which leads me another one of my favorite parts of this book–Mato (aka Somata Watson)! He’s one of Cartaxus’s soldiers who joins the team because he actually used to work in Entropia and knew Cat as Jun Bei!

With his knowledge of Entropia, he’d be able to try & get them a meeting with Regina!

He was such a fascinating character–the development between him & Cat was one of my favorites throughout this book! He’s mysterious, witty, but also kind as he also tries to help Cat better understand her past and what he can do to help her now!

Overall, I really loved Mato, he’s definitely one of my new favorite characters in this series and I won’t spoil anything, but his development throughout the book really surprised me and I’m so interested to see where his story is headed in book 3!

We see him as a friend Cat can really rely on as she’s figuring out the glitches in her tech and as she begins to feel this sense of loneliness as she soon sees that her past as Jun Bei now mostly gone, she can’t really connect with the people that once saw her as a close friend. So I loved seeing how Cat knew she wasn’t entirely alone as she spends her time in Entropia!

There’s also even more development given to basically the entire main cast in ways I really did not see coming and I loved how their depth goes just beyond what’s necessary to the plot and they just felt so real!

The intrigue of this novel is present as Cat meets Regina, learns more about Entropia, her panel tech, and the mutating virus. Overall, there’s this complex web that develops and it just builds till the very end!

Speaking of Regina, I don’t want to spoil too much, but as she takes Cat under her wing we learn more about her and the connection she has with Cartaxus and even some of the main characters!

Even though I adored Cat & Cole + their dynamic in This Mortal Coil, Suvada really leaves the reader thinking of where their relationship is headed when secrets are uncovered and Cat finds herself feeling unsure of being able to trust him!

This leads to a very interesting dynamics that Cat develops throughout the book, not only with Cole, but the other main characters and I really loved that.

Onto the world-building! Where with This Mortal Coil, I felt the world could have used just a little more development, this sequel delivers even more than I was expecting! Not only is there more expansion to the dynamics of this technology in another state, but also the government as a whole and the different view we have of it now that we know Cat has a mission to complete while being sided alongside (but also not?) with Cartaxus!

There’s so much intrigue as Cat is learning more about her past and people who knew her as Jun Bei–so, we are left filling in the gaps alongside with Cat as to what happened between those 6 months of her as Jun Bei and when her life as Cat began!

As I mentioned above, this leads to very interesting dynamics that really build between Cat throughout the book that really build into Cat as a character and the loneliness/grief she feels for not remembering and wanting to find that connection with those that knew her!

The intrigue allows for this really unique and more personal atmosphere to develop as we read from Cat’s 1st person POV! Its more character-driven and especially driven by Cat’s struggles with all that she knows now and still has yet to learn as she uncovers more of her past!

While my rating in no way takes away from my absolute enjoyment of this book and how much a fun read it was, I did want to get into and discuss why I rated This Cruel Design lower than Book 1 (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)(;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)!

With the fact that This Mortal Coil its an entirely new world, we don’t really know what to expect and because of that the pacing is really quick. Sadly for me personally, because we know the end goal–the crew finding Lachlan and looking for a way to eradicate a mutating virus before the end of their deadline set to them by Cartaxus–it felt like a lot of the story itself was already laid out, so I was just hoping for the pacing to be much more gripping, even though I truly did love the story!!

So hopefully what I’m saying makes sense??–But basically because we have a goal and know all the things we do after first book and through the first few chapters of This Cruel Design, it made this novel feel much more different in terms of pacing, which I wasn’t really expecting.

There’s also one character (which I don’t want to spoil) who is present later in the book and while it was great to see this character, I found that they took away from the route the book was already taking because they didn’t get too much development & came in somewhat late into the story!

Aside from what I said above however, I truly did have fun reading this book and those last few chapters–just wow!! I’m still in shock and cannot wait for book 3!

This Cruel Design is a fantastic sequel! Suvada delivers on a page-turning and intriguing story! Weaving in continuous development to the world, technology, and cast of characters, even more than in This Mortal Coil, this sequel leaves you with so many answers & even more questions, wondering when Book 3 will arrive!