Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey Review

Upright Women WantedUpright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Books)

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Pages: 176

Available Through The Book Depository: Upright Women Wanted

Cover Design: Will Staehle

Summary: “That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Upright Women Wanted is a dystopian novella that follows Esther, a stowaway who joins a group of Librarians as they travel across the American southwest! Set in a near-future Wild West, Gailey delivers a character-driven, atmospheric tale of adventure featuring a band of Queer women librarians!

Pride Month has recently started and I’m thrilled to have picked up this novella! It was so much fun and the unique fusion of genres is something I admire about Tor’s work. My love of fiction podcasts has made me realize that I adore genre mashups and that became even more clear as I read Upright Women Wanted. Also, this book has definitely gone under the radar so please pick it up!

After Esther Augustus witnesses the execution of her first love Beatriz, she finds herself hiding in a Librarians wagon, who travel across towns to deliver “Approved Materials” by the State.

Daughter of a high-ranking official/ Superintendent, she isn’t entirely sure of what her plan is…even after being told to marry someone she has no interest in and her love is dead, but one thing is certain…she had to flee. What follows is traveling across deserts and towns in the American Southwest, fighting bandits, deputies, and more importantly, fighting for justice!

Esther, whose lived a very sheltered life, wants nothing more than to avoid bringing trouble to her fellow Librarians: Bet, Leda, and Cye (who uses they/them pronouns). But she realizes that living on the fringes of this dystopian world means she must learn to finally accept herself and grow, despite the challenges ahead.

Told through a 3rd person POV, its so easy to find yourself in the atmosphere of the wild west and the unique world that Gailey has delivered. In the near-future, the US is divided into Quadrants and while there’s knowledge about our modern-day technology, now people have preferred to live in an old western society. There’s a grittiness to the world that sticks in your mind as you turn each page.

After some convincing, Esther sticks with the Librarians to become a bookbinder and learns their job is something so much more than just delivering books and media. As they reach isolated towns across the states, she learns more about the government she’s known all her life and the Librarians who are changing it!

While this is very much a journey story, Gailey puts such a focus on Esther’s own personal story and her own internal development. She’s finding the confidence within, alongside accepting herself as she is. From her fears about bringing harm and trouble to the Librarians, even her uncertainty of where she belongs in the world are beautifully cemented into the narrative.

As the Librarians take Esther towards Utah, she also meets Genevive, Trace, and Amity who become part of the crew. Among all of them, I felt Amity really got more page-time/development, especially nearing the end! She gets Esther to face some truths about the world around her. Amity is mysterious, clever and all around great character who I had fun reading about. Her dynamic with Esther was another one of my favorite character moments in the story!

Esther and Cye had such a beautiful dynamic that develops throughout the entirety of the novella and I adored them so much!! Cye shows her the ropes and I loved seeing the both of them grow together.

From the beginning of Upright Women Wanted, we see there’s this internalized misogyny and Queerphobia throughout this futuristic society. It was fascinating to explore those ideas and challenge them through a near-future and Western setting (where in reality, the history of the Wild West has been incredibly diverse). Gailey brilliantly juxtaposed this idea of a typically assumed non-diverse part of history with Queer representation and powerful female characters!

The world itself was fantastic and getting to explore it through the tiniest of details, was a lot of fun! There’s specific types of gravel that highlight a town’s wealth, different roles for Librarians, even minor hints as to life before the Quadrants / territories. I was also fascinated with learning how vital the Librarians job is in getting Materials across the country. The descriptions develop a clear setting in your mind and above all, its such an atmospheric story.

Its incredibly easy to lose yourself in this world and not only follow the journey, but also learn about the different characters and layers to them that get revealed little by little.

The themes explored throughout this novel are layered and subtle in some ways, but are so present when you look at this story as a whole. From the element of found family, themes of friendship, and hope of rebellion for a better society. The exploration of love and self are also present as Esther connects more with the Librarians.

Upright Women Wanted also presents Queer rep.! There’s f/f rep. (Bet and Leda), even a lovely relationship that develops between Esther and Cye. There’s also nonbinary representation as Cye uses they/them pronouns (however uses ‘she’ when in town).

After reaching that last page, I NEED more adventures with Cye and Esther!! 💖

While this is an all-around fantastic novella, I wanted to delve into why its 4 stars, for me personally. The concept of the Librarians and the Materials they deliver across the country, alongside their underlying rebellion and their roles as librarians in general was so fascinating…BUT, I felt the novella just barely got through the surface of what they are capable of. I really just wish the concept was developed a bit more, because its such a highlight of the world.

I also wish there were additional plot points to become more familiar with the Librarians and just get to know these characters a bit more. Overall there’s a brilliant and unique idea that Gailey presented I just felt there needed to be more plot-wise to explore it.

As with all Tor novellas, I’d be thrilled to see future books set in this world, perhaps even a series? But from what I’ve read, I think its a standalone. Also, because of how unique the story was and all that it explores, this was probably one of my toughest reviews I’ve written in a while. If my review has convinced you to read or check out this wonderful novella, please let me know, I’d love to chat about it with all of you! 💞

Upright Women Wanted is a spectacular dystopian, western novella featuring a great cast of characters, Queer librarian spies, adventure and so much more! The immersive world, unique concepts, and underlying themes make this a great novella worth checking out. Its Hopepunk meets the Wild West!

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!! 💗

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark Review

The Black God's Drums by P. Djeli ClarkThe Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Publishing)

Release Date: August 21, 2018

Pages: 111

Available Through The Book Depository: The Black God’s Drums

Cover Illustration: Chris McGrath

Summary: Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper keeps another secret close to heart–Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who speaks inside her head and grants her divine powers. And Oya has her own priorities concerning Creeper and Ann-Marie… 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Black God’s Drums is a fantastic novella that fuses steampunk and history, set in 1884 New Orleans! Creeper, an orphan, sees the potential for something much greater when she learns of a scientist and his weapon that could bring chaos across the city. There’s descriptive world building, mystery, African mythology, and much more in this masterfully crafted historical fantasy novella set during the post Civil War era!

I hope I’m not alone in this when I say that P. Djèlí Clark packs so much into this 111 page novella, that it deserves to have its own full-length novels! It felt like there was still so much lore and history yet to be discovered in Clark’s steampunk/science fiction fantasy New Orleans once I reached the end! I’d been really looking forward to reading this for years because as always Tor continuously releases such brilliant stories, especially when it comes to their novellas! I remember learning about it through the cover reveal a couple years ago and after reading the summary I knew I had to check out this steampunk SFF novella!

Creeper is a 13-year-old orphan surviving on the streets of New Orleans and she is graced by the goddess Oya, the African orisha of wind and storms, who speaks to her through her mind. Her connection with the goddess allows her to see a premonition of something dangerous on the horizon.

She quickly learns of Dr. Duval, a Haitian scientist, whose meeting with confederate state soldiers to exchange information about a powerful weapon known as the Black God’s Drums, keeping that information close, she finds her way to a bordello (where her mother used to work) to exchange information of her own with the captain, Ann-Marie!

With this exchange, she hopes it’ll offer her an opportunity for a new life, perhaps even one filled with adventure!

This leads to the Creeper (whose real name is Jacqueline) and Ann-Marie working together to learn where the scientist’s trail leads and what it could mean for the city if the weapon falls into the wrong hands (such as confederate soldiers). They follow their sources that offer more insight into the scientist’s work and what it could be used for.

Told through a 1st person POV, there’s so much heart and such a vibrant energy/voice to Creeper that brings the world to life. The history and fusion of the world building alongside the steampunk elements are developed so well because we’re in her head. Clark layers the history of the civil war, Haitian revolution, atmosphere of 1800’s America, alongside masterfully weaving in mythology and steampunk technology! With the way Clark executes this tale, it feels like this version of New Orleans could have truly existed back then! (*Side note: this novella gave me such fiction podcast vibes, its  definitely inspired me to work on a list of recommendations based on SFF books! Hoping to get it posted sometime in the future *・゚:✧ ✧゚ *!!)

New Orleans acts as a neutral port city that is the central hub for such a diverse Black diaspora where many cultures are represented, from Haiti, Trinidad, and the Caribbean.

Clark cleverly delivers this neutral city as a “bridge” between the US alongside Caribbean, while still increasing the political tension and expanding on the layered history during the time. As mentioned in this Nerd Daily Q&A, he brilliantly weaves together cultural history and that of slavery alongside mythology and balances these so perfectly:

“I knew I wanted it to be steampunk, and I knew I wanted it to both centralise and subvert the histories of slavery and emancipation. New Orleans turned out to be the perfect place that could bridge these various worlds: a geographic space connected to the North American mainland yet also a port city with ties to the Caribbean.” 

Clark includes the modern technology of the time such as telegraphs, railway stations, and much more! However it’s also through the description of the weather, atmosphere, factory smoke, upcoming Maddi grá festivities, and colorful town houses that add that element of realism alongside the steampunk elements from airships to the Black God’s Drums and the dangerous Drapeto gas. Alongside that, there’s also a focus on African folklore and myth as we learn more about the goddesses Oshun & Oya, even Shango!

You can tell Clark put so much thought into the way the history would be presented in this world and it never once felt underdeveloped or rushed. For someone like me who has really minimal knowledge of Black history during this time, I felt I learned so much that definitely inspired me to do my own research after reading this book!

Language itself also plays such a big part in this novel, adding another layer to the world itself as characters had different dialects and ,as mentioned above, also featured characters from different backgrounds.

One of my favorite dynamics in this novella was between Creeper and captain Ann-Marie. They really are like to sides of a coin and I loved seeing their friendship grow. They learn so much about their abilities and seeing them work together made this such a fun adventure! Not only is Creeper connected to Oya, but Ann-Marie is also connected to an orisha named Oshun, whose tied to the water.

At its heart, this is a story about 2 Black women embracing their inner power and it’s such a beautifully explored layer of the story that really comes together by the end!

The cast of characters were all great and it’s so clear that Clark has woven so much history into each of their distinct stories, but throughout this novella he cleverly leaves a lot to readers imaginations (like the nuns, Feral, Madame Diouf, even Ann-Marie’s ship mates Francois, Nogai & Ravi). Also mentioned in the article above, I got this sense that there was a lot more to Ann-Marie and her Midnight Robber crew and as it turns out, Clark originally had the novella in her perspective!

Though I absolutely adored this book, I personally felt like the story was getting a bit rushed near the end (though of course it has to do with the structure of being a novella), hence the 4 stars. It wraps up really nicely and Clark hints at a future for Creeper in Orleans alongside Ann-Marie!

I’ll also add that with the fast-paced nature of the story and specific/direct world-building, I’d recommend this novella if you enjoyed Six Of Crows or if your looking for a good historical mystery with a great ensemble cast, I also recommend this if you love The Diviners! Alongside reading The Black God’s Drums in book form, I listened to the audiobook as well and I suggest checking it out too!

Again, if there are ever ANY future novellas in this series, I will definitely be reading them…and if there’s ever a possibility for full-length novels? Even better!

The Black God’s Drums is wonderful SFF novella with descriptive world building, action, adventure, mystery and brilliantly weaves together steampunk alongside 1800’s history! In my opinion, this is a clever historical fantasy tale that deserves more hype!

I’m also getting back into reading some of the more quiet books on my TBR for my year-long readathon called: #QuietReadathon! So, reading this novella completed the challenge of ‘Backlist Boost,’ & ‘Read a book with under 5k ratings on Goodreads.’ If your looking for a fun, stress-free readathon to enjoy, I hope you’ll check it out! 😍💖

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire Review

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuireIn An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #4)

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Books)

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Pages: 204

Available Through The Book Depository: In An Absent Dream

Cover Design: Robert Hunt

Summary: This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: In An Absent Dream is a cozy and haunting sort of read that introduces you to a world based on an fairness, logic, and entrenched in a young girl’s journey to find home! McGuire’s fourth installment in the Wayward Children’s Series layers important themes of friendship, the impact of choice, and the worlds we choose to root ourselves in!

I’d taken a break from this series after Beneath The Sugar Sky, but I knew I’d always find a way back to it. Then, having noticed I’ve only read ONE book this month, I decided a novella was exactly what I needed! After not being able to put this book down for the past 24 hours, I can honestly say that In An Absent Dream is my favorite book in this series!

This novella delves deep into the past of Lundy, beloved therapist in Eleanor’s Home For Wayward Children. When I first read Every Heart a Doorway, I felt there was so much left to learn about her and while I had little connection to her character, Absent Dream changed that!

Set in 1964, we follow Katherine Lundy, a logical and brilliant girl who longs for more. Friendship, above all, that connection to those she can relate to and who can truly see her. She’s always been proper, an avid reader, more clever and perceptive than those her age.

However, she soon finds a door that leads her to place where she quickly feels right at home. A place founded on fairness, barters, and promises that are destined to be kept.

She makes new friends (who are very much like family) Moon (a bird-like girl) and Archivist, who teach her the ways of the puzzling Goblin Market. To me, I found this book to be above all, about loneliness and the bond one creates through friendship. Lundy has never had an real friends, but when she’s introduced to the peculiar Moon, she knows she’s found a friend she can rely on.

One trip after another, however, she quickly learns that our world no longer feels like hers. Each return leads to situations she believes are well within her control, always finding her way back through the door.

Part coming-of-age and part portal fantasy, Lundy’s adventures back and forth to the Goblin Market change her at each turn, in ways she doesn’t even realize until we reach that final page.

As established in the Goblin Market, the concept of fairness was beautifully crafted and made into such a vital piece of the novel, and like Lundy, you can’t help but keep that concept in the back of your mind with every turn of the page! It still shocks you because you know the laws and how they work, yet as values build Lundy’s approach to them change as she grows. Her way of thinking alters to where she sees that rules and collecting costs weren’t always so simple as they had once been.

This is also a novel about growing up, seeing the world not as you did when you were young, but seeing how it changes and evolves the more that time passes.

I know I’ve probably said it multiple times already, but its true: Lundy is my favorite character now! This novel gave us such an introspective look into her childhood and the years that follow. We understand her drive, her ambition, the distinct way she sees the world around her and its beautiful. There were many moments where I related to Lundy, feeling like I’m distant from the world at points, escaping to my world (similar to her, through books) and the wondrous, deep connection one feels when they have friends and faith you put in them.

McGuire does a spectacular job at building the ambiance of the Market world into a tangible, real world with history, atmosphere, and rules that present it as such a stark contrast to ours, in a quiet, fairy-tale like way! Overall, the world-building in this installment is spectacular and one of my favorites.

There’s also little details that really set this world apart from other Doors in previous books, which made it such a distinct place to be! The bird cages, the bird/feather motifs, the delicious pies, detailed rules of the market and its cost. But above all, it was also this back and forth between our world (seen as more ordinary with each return) and the vibrant, almost understanding world of the market. However it was how these both separate, but distinct worlds easily wove together through Lundy’s perspective.

Lundy’s real world journeys through school ,the complex emotions and goals she defines for herself are challenged by those around her the more she carries back knowledge from The Goblin Market. With each journey back you could see how she continued to grow and even see the market itself change from her perspective because of it.

I loved following her adventures with Moon through the stalls and just being immersed in their beautiful friendship that has so many complex layers to it. Also Archivist’s home, her comforting library, and the unchanging door that always welcomed her.

We also learn how Lundy’s family tree has a connection to the market, which makes it an even more layered tale! This is also a story about familial relationships: Such as that with her father and his own secretive connection to The Goblin Market. I also loved that during a time when there’s still many external expectations for women, her father gives her choice and she’s respected for all her different layers.

Lundy herself is a girl with ambition that not many can see or understand. Its that internal, almost detached feeling that she has from our world the more she realizes that The Goblin Market truly feels like home.

The 3rd person POV allowed for not only the world to be beautifully developed and explored, but also the themes, coming-of-age story, characters, and layered pieces that brought it all  together.

My only minor issues (which make this rating so difficult because I TRULY  loved this book), include McGuire’s common element to her writing where she repeats certain phrases too often. While I completely understand its supposed to offer that classic storytelling atmosphere, for me personally it loses the impact because they are so often thrown in. It feels like we already know what its meant to imply and it could’ve allowed for more variation and description to further expand on Lundy’s story.

Also, I did feel the ending was a little rushed as we reached that last chapter–I honestly wouldn’t have minded if this book was just a bit longer! I loved being in Lundy’s world, so it would have been fantastic to get a bit more expansion on her friendship with Moon & Archivist, her family (who aside from her father, doesn’t seem like she has such a deep connection to), and the in-between battles/adventures she had before coming back to our world.

*Side note, with the friend of the Market we never meet, Mockery, I wish I felt more of a connection to her. She sounded interesting, but she’s only ever referenced in flashbacks and when we’re back in the present she has little impact on the story.

Overall though, McGuire’s 4th book in this series is one that connected with me on such a deep level and I would gladly read this book again in the future. There were many deep, moving messages I got out of it and would probably discover more on a reread.

In An Absent Dream dives deep into the story behind its characters, builds on themes of friendship and self, while delivering a profound world such as the Goblin Market that inspires further exploration! Lundy’s story will captivate you from page 1!

Silver In The Wood by Emily Tesh Review

Silver In The Wood by Emily TeshSilver In The Wood by Emily Tesh

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Books)

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: Silver In The Wood

Summary: There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Silver In The Wood is a captivating, enchanting, and atmospheric novella debut which follows Tobias Finch whose looked after Greenhollow woods for hundreds of years and the new owner of Greenhollow Hall, Henry Silver! Tesh delivers an introspective tale, rooted in folklore and legend!

Ever since I read Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal back in 2016, I’ve loved keeping up with the latest novellas from Tor! No matter which one I pick up I can always expect to be transported to a unique and memorable world!

Silver In The Wood was no different! In my Cozy Fall Recommendations post that I shared recently I actually featured this book, and let me just say that the lush and detailed forest imagery and focus on folklore definitely deliver on that fall atmosphere!

This was a novella I got through in one sitting and I can’t wait to read future books in this series! Despite the length, I felt there was a great understanding of the world, mythology, and its characters.

Its very much a reflective and introspective kind of story as we follow Tobias who is tethered to the Greenhollow woods, looks after its visitors and other forest creatures (dryads, etc.). Tobias’s journey changes course when a there’s a new owner of Greenhollow Hall, Henry Silver.

As the two connect, we learn more about them, alongside the mythology and folktales that have rooted themselves deeply in their world.

Apparently the story was inspired by the Green Man myth, which I didn’t know going into it. But, I felt that going into it with vague knowledge on the plot actually made the reading experience so much fun!

Continuing with the story, Henry always finds himself coming back to Greenhollow where Tobias lives. As the two grow even closer, we learn more about Tobias and his past, including the fact that Henry may be in danger!

What I appreciated about this book so much was that there were layers to the characters that get expanded on and get revealed at a steady pace. There’s questions I had about Tobias and Henry’s past, but it was at the most perfect moments where I finally got my answers.

Tobias, we learn has lived for so long that he’s grown accustomed to the world around him, but hasn’t really found a place to set down roots. Tesh explores Tobias’s internal journey so wonderfully as he reflects on the legends of the world, the forest around him, and his growing relationship/dynamic with Henry through a detailed and personal POV.

According to a blog post from Tor, Tesh’s inspiration for the setting was inspired by:

“the ancient woodlands of the British Isles, places which although they may seem wild are in fact witness to centuries if not millennia of carefully managed relationships between human beings and the natural world…”

You can sense the imagery with the way Tesh just weaves together the details of the setting and how it becomes part of the characters in a big way too!

Through Tesh’s writing there’s a sense of wonder and charm to the woods that’s delivered through the 3rd person POV! It really shines as it dives deep into the legends of the world and how it connects to our main characters.

Another elements that are woven all throughout (which I loved) were the themes of story and storytelling. The folklore of of a notorious bandit (Red Fay), Henry’s old maps of Hallowed Woods, Tobias’s dryad friend Bramble, its these details that really bring the world to life to present a folktale within a folktale. Its lush, atmospheric, and finds its roots in the folklore/legend that’s layered into the story.

What Silver In The Wood does in such a fantastic way is weaving together the legend and folklore of the past and showing how it influences the present, as seen through 23-year old Henry, who we learn is a folklorist who is eager to learn and study more of the tales of the Hallowed Hall & woods!

That also includes the tale of Fabian Rafela (which Tobias is very familiar with). I won’t spoil what happens, but that adds another layer of mystery and conflict to the story that really keeps you hooked nearing the middle to end!

The romance between Henry and Tobias is brought to life through the quiet moments they have with one another that builds so much depth and emotion to different layers of the story.

The novella does have a bit of a slow pace to it, but the writing-style really makes the pages fly by!

Also, have I mentioned that Tobias has a very loyal cat named Pearl? 🐱

I definitely recommend this novella if your looking for an atmospheric novella, rooted in folklore, legends, followed by a delightful and unique cast of characters!

Silver In The Wood is an immersive novella that is rooted deep in folklore and legends! This is an introspective and character-driven tale that also delivers lush and atmospheric forest imagery! Its Tobias and Henry’s journeys that really root you in the story and keep you hooked till the very end! You’ll be left wondering what new adventures Tesh has set in the world of Greenhollow! 

Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway Review

Dark Of The West by Joanna HathawayDark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway (Glass Alliance #1)

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Pages: 480

Available Through The Book Depository: Dark Of The West

Summary: Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Dark Of The West is a historical fantasy-esque tale, weaved together with WW-infused elements! This novel is filled with geopolitics, intrigue, and an incredibly complex cast of characters! Hathaway’s debut is a slow-building, but wholly immersive novel that will keep you thinking with each and every page!

You know those books that just have such a layered and complex world, that you can picture yourself hopping on a plane & heading to that fictional setting?

Dark Of The West was one of those books! The way Hathaway built the history, evolving politics, atmosphere, and beliefs of differing countries such as Etania, Savient, and the South, made the setting come to life on the page, all while allowing me to truly immerse myself in the complex world!

The 20th-Century style setting with planes, castles, electricity, emerging technology, we’re just some of the fascinating elements that also lent itself to this wholly unique setting.

Princess Aurelia and pilot/general’s son Athan are both eager to carve their own paths for themselves! But family feuds going back generations force them to try and uphold their parent’s values that they aren’t entirely sure they understand.

According to her bio & author interviews I’ve read, Hathaway adores history! Throughout Dark Of The West you can see where her inspiration builds and heightens the complex elements to her world.

Dark Of The West was a book I was waiting months for because the summary just hooked me and it sounded like my kind of book–star-crossed love, pilots, politics, etc.! I was bummed when this book was pushed from 2018 to 2019, but now that I’ve finally read this gem of a novel, I was left emotionally devastated and I’m not even sure how I can wait for book 2!

What I love about Dark Of The West so much was the characters–wow these characters! Athan, Aurelia, Cyar, Reni, Violet, even cunning and deceptive characters like the General, Arrin, & Havis–I found myself understanding all of the different layers to them and they truly came to life throughout this entire book!

Athan is eager to follow his own destiny away from the Academy, his ruthless father the General, and all the expectations he’s been born into! At the start of the novel, we see that he is continuously hiding his brilliance in order to trick his father and avoid getting tangled even further into the schemes and brewing war!

You can sense the tension and anxiety that Athan feels because he knows he’ll never be like his cold, older brothers Arrin & Kalt and doesn’t want to take part in his father’s plans to rule over more of their world. The cunning dynamic between Arrin & Athan was probably one of my favorite sibling dynamics throughout this book!

What Hathaway did so brilliantly is portraying these opposing mirrors to Athan and Aurelia as characters! They have a foil or mirror that in our minds–if led on some other path, could have easily become, but through Hathaway’s complex politics and layered sides to Athan + Aurelia, we see that there’s many different sides to the entire cast that we can only uncover through the each distinct POV as the novel develops.

First person lends itself to not only seeing all the characters from a different angle, but also the multi-layered world and politics that build throughout Dark Of The West! The writing is beautiful and poetic! Writing itself, in my opinion, is also an important element to world-building, especially through 1st person & Hathaway’s vivid and elegant writing style not only captured that heart, but also played a huge role in how I viewed the story!

Aurelia finds comfort in journeys through the forest, but also loves to paint! We learn that with the loss of her father, she continues to carry on the beauty of painting with her. I loved how this also contrasted with Athan’s love of sketching!

I loved Aurelia, she was such a brave and brilliant heroine who inspired me, while also reminded me of my own strength that often goes unseen & I adored that so much!

Aurelia and Athan find themselves crossing paths when the General hatches a plan to go to Etania & visit the queen, Aurelia’s mother, with a political meeting in mind alongside revenge against his long-time rival. However, in reality he knows politics are tough for the queen and wants to find a way to seize her throne, all while using his son Athan to keep him close and uncover more through the princess.

What surprised me was how Aurelia never really found out who he was, even when things get intense near the last 1/4 of the book! I’m scared for what’ll happen when she does find out who he really is & what it’ll mean for their dynamic going forward in future Glass Alliance books!

Family and friendship, alongside trust and loyalty were big themes present throughout Dark Of The West which I found were developed so incredibly well! There’s Athan & Cyar’s friendship–their dynamic was so beautiful to read about because there’s not that many books I can recall that have such a strong guy friendship or having it done in such an in-depth way like in this book!

We also can’t forget Violet & Aurelia’s friendship–which is cemented with the support they have for one another.

Family of course is also a very integral part to this story that you sense with every page! From Athan & Aurelia’s expectations, their older siblings, parents, and all the political scheming + underlying intrigue that goes on with them throughout the book hidden to both Athan & Aurelia!

There’s many secrets that are hidden between both families and I loved how Hathaway weaved them into the story and exploring why family and history play such huge roles in the main conflict of this novel! It was brilliantly cemented into the story.

The romance that develops between Aurelia and Athan is so beautiful, subtle, and yet heart-breaking all at the same time!! We know going in that their both on opposite sides of this war, but I couldn’t help but continue to root for them so much! (& constantly remembering about that prologue *both beautiful + haunting* didn’t help either 😅😭💔)

Another underlying element to this book that I found fascinating was how it explored this internal war between the Dakar’s & Isendare’s without there having actually been a war throughout the book-through the scheming & politics sparked by the death of Athan’s mother.

The politics are multi-layered and full expanded on throughout the novel, that builds its way into many different pieces of the story.

I wish I could put into words all the love I have for this book & my beloved crew of Aurelia, Cyar & Athan! They captured my heart from their first introductions ❤ I just–love each of them with all my heart and want them to be protected at all costs in book 2 😭💖

I suppose my only minor critique which did not take away from my complete adoration for this book, is that the pacing is a bit slow at times. This is very much a politically-driven novel with intrigue and court politics, so its very much a story to be experienced that you really absorb through Aurelia & Athan, which is why it is at 4.5!

However, above all I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to see where Hathaway continues The Glass Alliance! Though, I’m not sure I’ll be entirely prepared! 😅🎉🎉

Dark Of The West is haunting, but beautifully crafted novel that will leave you captivated! The fascinating characters, immersive setting, brilliantly explored politics, and layered storytelling make Hathaway’s novel a must read! This debut is a historical-inspired fantasy that has so much depth and heart, leaving you eager for the sequel right away!

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen Cover Reveal + Thoughts {The Bright Sessions}

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞✨📚 I’m back on the blog today to discuss a cover reveal I’ve been highly anticipating!

The Bright SessionsBased on The Bright Sessions science-fiction audio drama podcast, it was announced early last year that the creator Lauren Shippen would be adapting it into a YA trilogy!

The podcast, told through therapy sessions, among various audio recordings, focuses on therapist Dr. Bright who provides therapy for the “strange and unusual” or those with supernatural abilities. The show delves deeper into Dr.Bright’s past and more about her patients!

The podcast explores and discusses mental health in such an in-depth way and presents a brilliant and incredibly developed cast of characters–So, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this podcast if you haven’t already!

The first Bright Sessions novel, titled The Infinite Noise had its official cover reveal today via Lauren Shippen’s Twitter and today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this cover & a little bit more on why I’m really looking forward to this book!

Here is the cover
Cover Artist: Victo Ngai

 

Here’s a full summary of The Infinite Noise:

Caleb Michaels is your average sixteen-year-old. He goes to school, plays football, teases his little sister. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand. 

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

This is a fantastic cover & I can’t believe this book will actually be releasing this year!! The colors, the art-style, it captures and really illustrates Caleb’s ability (as an empath) and with that, Caleb as a character!

I’m beyond excited to read this book, not only as a big fan of the podcast looking to get more background into some of my favorite characters from the show, but also seeing how many more people will discover this amazing podcast through Shippen’s novel!

I’ve been a fan of this podcast for years and its amazing to see Shippen expand on the wonderful characters she’s created with this upcoming trilogy!

If you haven’t yet listened to The Bright Sessions, what are you waiting for? Go listen to it if you love stories with a complex plot & characters, superpowers, thorough exploration of mental health, and ever-present themes of friendship + family! 💡🎙✨

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen is set to be released September 24, 2019!

What are your thoughts on The Infinite Noise cover?

Have you listened to The Bright Sessions podcast? & If you have, are you looking forward to this book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dystopia

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

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

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

Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

Science Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 2019 Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Posts From This Month:

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

January 2019 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi {Reading Diary}

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

The Gilded Wolves {Reading Playlist}

YA Book-To-Movie Adaptations Releasing In 2019!

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

King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo {Bookish Theories}

Flyest Fables Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

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

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

Plans For February:

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

~ Stay on track with my monthly bullet journal TBRs!

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

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

The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera Review

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

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Pages: 544

Summary: Since she was a child, the divine empress O Shizuka has believed she was an untouchable god. When her uncle, ruler of the Hokkaran Empire, sends her on a suicide mission as a leader of the Imperial Army, the horrors of war cause her to question everything she knows.

Thousands of miles away, the exiled and cursed warrior Barsalyya Shefali undergoes trials the most superstitious would not believe in order to return to Hokkaran court and claim her rightful place next to O Shizuka.

As the distance between disgraced empress and blighted warrior narrows, a familiar demonic force grows closer to the heart of the empire. Will the two fallen warriors be able to protect their home?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Phoenix Empress expands on the world of Hokkaro and delves deeper into a period of empress Shizuka’s past! Exquisite writing, action, adventure, and a plot that uncovers more about the world you thought you knew, Arsenault Rivera’s latest book, is a brilliantly explored sequel!

If you were to ask me what my most memorable historical/epic fantasy books are in recent years, I wouldn’t hesitate to say: The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera!

When I turned the very last page of Tiger, I was left emotionally drained, but in a good way. I fell in love with both Shizuka and Shefali–their lives, complexities, and the beautiful friendship + relationship they formed! From the moment I started The Phoenix Empress, it was like returning home.

I’ll be honest, because I’d been so captivated by The Tiger’s Daughter, I did put off reading Phoenix because I just wasn’t prepared to get back to it right away during release! However, I’m glad I didn’t because after that ending (WOW!) I don’t have to wait as long for The Warrior Moon! 😭💖❤

Set in the Hokkaran Empire, this series follows Qorin warrior Barsalai Shefali and divine empress-to-be O-Shizuka. Since birth their fates have been destined to remain tied together. Over the course of  story, Shefali recounts her childhood with Shizuka through letters as they grew up together, became the best of friends, and learned more about the feelings they have for one another.

From the elegant writing style, to the way Arsenault Rivera crafts her characters through the eyes of Shefali, brings everyone and everything in this world to life!

What I loved about The Tiger’s Daughter was seeing how it ended on such a happy note with them finally seeing each other again after an 8-year separation.

However when The Phoenix Empress begins, we learn their reunion is short-lived as Shizuka is busy with politics, meetings, and other important duties as empress and her time with Shefali is constantly being cut short.

While both books have their dark and impactful moments, The Phoenix Empress definitely showcases a more grounded darkness as Shizuka recounts the depression and change she underwent with Shefali’s forced dismissal.

What I love about this series so much is not only the attention to detail that lends itself to the characters and world, but also the symbolism and parallels that I uncovered even more as I read Phoenix!

From plum blossoms, Shizuka being the storyteller this time around, how Shizuka loses her tears, and the backstory as to why Shizuka can barley look into the reflection of water anymore, these were the kinds of details I picked up on while reading that lent so much meaning to the story in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Shizuka however is not exactly the same as we or Shefali remember her in book 1! Still recovering from loneliness and the trials of war, there are ghosts that Shizuka calls to the surface that have haunted her during the time of Shefali’s absence.

The Phoenix Empress explores the effects of war, both internally and externally as Shizuka is transformed from confident empress to an empress now led astray by her lost love. But in Shefali’s absence, she now uses her loss for the time being to transform Hokkaro into a more united country.

From working in a Kyuuzen Temple to banding together a Xianese army to fight against the blackblood demons, and taking up the role as a soldier, Shizuka learns a lot more about her country and its people.

I would definitely say that Shizuka’s journey and travels during the war and alongside the Xianese were some of my favorite sections to read about!

Though there are so many of Shizuka’s scenes and moments I loved throughout Phoenix, if I had to pick a favorite I’d have to say that mine was when she connected with her ability to raise flowers and regrew The Wall Of Flowers! The descriptions to her connection with the world around her and just the ethereal presence I felt while reading it made it one of the many memorable scenes of Shizuka’s time in the army!

Shizuka has this light inside of her that I could sense with every chapter and new journey she was headed on! Even in the face of difficult trials, she pushed on and never gave up! Though there were many moments that caused her pain, she knew there was nothing worse than not being with Shefali and that pushed her to change herself and her world!

As with The Tiger’s Daughter, the novel jumps between the past and the present. Though this time instead of letters, its Shizuka telling Shefali stories of what happened during her absence.

In the present, not only does Shefali see how Shizuka is still recovering, but she’s also attempting to fight the demon that has slowly begun to take her over and learns the devastating news that she may only have months to live.

This sequel was interesting in a lot of ways, because with The Tiger’s Daughter we’re following Shizuka & Shefali’s lives literally starting at their births to their late 20’s. However, in Phoenix we’re following mainly Shizuka, this time through a set period of her life and why it left her such a changed person.

As with The Tiger’s Daughter, Arsenault Rivera’s writing is not only beautiful and descriptive, but also so poetic! Her writing is styled in a way where your left knowing so much about the setting, culture, character’s lives, and vastness of the story with each line.

While there were so many I loved, here were some of my favorite lines that I found throughout reading Phoenix:

“Letters are only paper. They may tear or fall apart or burn or eighty other things. Words can live forever, if we give them a voice…” (37).

“The most honorable thing in the world is to safeguard others…” (277).

“I do not consider the impossibility of a thing before I resolve myself to do it…” (354).

We get to know even more about the different lands across Hokkaaro such as Shiseiki and especially Xian-Lai! Through Shizuka’s efforts to grant countries their freedom from years of Hokkaran rule, we get to see even more depth to the history and culture of these vast countries.

Though Shizuka isn’t with Shefali for some time, we learn that Shizuka had been living in Xian-Lai with a fellow empress and learned about a long-lost cousin. I loved them so much, not only were they such deeply explored characters, but also as with Tiger, we see a vast array of powerful and inspiring female characters!

From Boazhai (Xian-Lai’s empress), Shizuka’s cousins Sakura & Daishi and general Xianyu (Baozhai’s older sister)–to of course Shefali & Shizuka themselves, I love the complexities, different dynamics and strengths that are seen among this cast of female characters! They are each unique, captivating, and inspiring in their own ways!

Since Tiger, we’ve known that it was Kenshiro who had let word out that Shizuka and Shefali we’re together, forcing the cruel emperor to separate them. However, since then we’ve seen how Shizuka has come to forgive him and I loved seeing how much these characters: Kenshiro, Baozhai (whose his wife), Sakura, Daishi, become one huge family alongside Shizuka & Shefali when they uncover more about the lore of their world, the monsters that still lurk, and a looming battle with a god that they still have much to learn about!

Though its slowly woven into the story and a lot more present nearing the last 1/4, I loved the expansion on the mythology and lore of the gods and how I see it playing such a crucial part in book 3, The Warrior Moon!

A mysterious chapter under the name of The Eternal King, uncovers that this god is the one who’s possibly been invading Shefali’s mind under the name of The Scholar since the start of the book! After getting a bit of backstory and how he can literally change the essence of who a person is & shape it into whatever he wants–I’m so interested to see how this is developed (but also a little worried for Shefali).

I also loved this discussion of gods explored even more when throughout this book we’ve seen that Shizuka’s claims of her & Shefali being gods wasn’t so far-fetched after all. It turns out there is a cycle of deities that rise out of chaos and live on through a destined group of people. This reveal was probably one of the most surprising elements of the book, but I loved how this led the cast to use it to their advantage and formulate a better plan at trying to save their world.

It seems there’s a looming war on the horizon and I can’t wait to see how my 2 brilliant warriors Shefali & Shizuka team up to take down the Eternal King! *Spoiler– I was not expecting him to be an ancient emperor! I’m interested to see where this is headed in book 3!

As with Shefali, we learn more here & there about the infection running through her. Though its something she keeps a lot to herself throughout the book, I loved reading about her development between her and her brother–finding that common ground again to talk to one another! I also loved learning more about her niece Baoyi!!

Probably another one of the most heartbreaking moments of this book aside from following Shizuka’s loneliness, was the fact that since her return Shefali hadn’t yet seen her mother!

Knowing she wanted to reconnect with Shizuka and spend time with her, I cried when she received a letter from her mother stating how proud she was of her and that they would meet again soon!

As mentioned above, though the main narrator changed for this book, I loved that no matter what I still felt a connection to the world! From the lush nature descriptions to the many people Shizuka meets along her journey, and the way more information is uncovered about the land of Hokkaro.

For me personally, I did find the pacing to be slower than Tiger and am surprised it took me practically a month to read this sequel, considering I’d gotten through Tiger in just a couple days. Though, I think that’s due to the difference in writing-style between Shefali and Shizuka, so it took me a little longer to get through this book!

Above all though, I really loved this book a lot! The Phoenix Empress‘s plot plays a lot with time and through that, we see this wonderfully executed timeline that lends a new perspective to the empress and world we thought we knew! Though Shefali & Shizuka especially, shows so much vulnerability in this novel, seeing her growth and the family that’s formed between her & many other characters has definitely got me ready to see where their journey is headed in their Ascendancy!

The Phoenix Empress is an epic continuation to a brilliant fantasy series! This unforgettable sequel expands even more on the world of The Tiger’s Daughter than you first expect! Powerful and dynamic female characters, expansive lore and world-building, politics, action, adventure, and so much more, make The Phoenix Empress a unique and impactful sequel! The wait for The Warrior Moon will be tough, but so worth it!