The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo Review

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze ChooThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo 

Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)

Release Date: August 6, 2013

Pages: 362

Available Through The Book Depository: The Ghost Bride

Cover Design: Mumtaz Mustafa

Summary: Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Ghost Bride is a rich and immersive historical fantasy, set in 1890’s Malaya! Weaving together the paranormal, romance, alongside Chinese and Malaysian culture, customs, and mythology! Choo’s story is a captivating tale filled with adventure when Li Lan is told to she’ll be arranged in a ghost marriage!

I’d already been looking forward to reading Choo’s novel for a while, because I mean from that summary, doesn’t it sound fascinating? Well I knew the Netflix series had already released earlier this year and decided to finally give it a read!

*Quick side-note: In this review I’ll also talk a bit about The Ghost Bride adaptation and why you should watch it! (Seriously, it seems like not enough people have watched this show and its FANTASTIC + only 6 episodes)

17-year-old Li Lan’s family is struggling financially and so when the story starts, her father informs her that the wealthy Lim, has offered a her marriage proposal to become a Ghost Bride!

Even after getting to visit the Lim mansion she feels like she isn’t suited for this proposal and isn’t sure what to do. But, when Lim Tian Ching (the dead son) soon starts haunting her, she learns that his death may not have been an accident.

As she tries to escape Lim Tian’s hauntings night after night, she’s also drawn to another member of the family, his cousin Tian Bai! Though in trying to escape Lim Tian, she accidentally takes too much of a potion and finds herself trapped in the in-between of her world and the afterlife.

She journeys to the Plains Of The Dead in order to solve the mystery of Lim Tian Ching’s death, uncover secrets about her family and find her way home before its too late!

What The Ghost Bride does so beautifully is create a vivid and immersive setting that instantly transports you! From the port town of Malacca to the Plains Of The Dead, Lim Mansion, etc. they all come to life through an elegant 1st person POV.

Choo’s prose is poetic and descriptive, illustrating a vast and lush setting. You get a sense of not only time, but also weather, food, customs, interwoven with layers of politics and social class. The storytelling itself is also so unique and goes in directions I was not expecting! Alongside that, the atmosphere is there from the very beginning making it incredibly easy to picture yourself there!

Following Li Lan’s perspective rooted me even more in the setting, its characters, including the world of the living and dead that Choo crafted! Telling this story from Li Lan’s perspective brings such an emotional and descriptive depth to the world as a whole. Its so easy to be immersed into all these different layers of the story!

The 1st person POV also brings a deep sense of melancholy, knowing Li Lan’s family situation and this feeling of loneliness after losing her mother and feeling like her father has drifted away. However, Li Lan is an incredibly sarcastic, intuitive, and overall just engaging character that it only made sense to have us follow her journey through this perspective!

There’s also many lighthearted moments, weaved with humor & sarcasm that really bring a lot of funny moments throughout the story!

The cast of characters are also fantastic, I loved them! Aside from our main character Li Lan, Amah (whose like a mother to her) and Old Wong, the family chef, are both there for her and are these glimmering lights for her during this rough time.

Aside from Tian Bai and Lim Tian Ching, there’s also Er Lang (a powerful guide of sorts) and Fan, a ghost who sees Li Lan when she takes on a ghostly form.

Both Er Lang and Fan act almost as paranormal guides who help her during her journey in the Plains and the

There’s also Tian Bai, who Li Lan is instantly drawn too, then there’s Er Lang and Fan, paranormal guides who help Li Lan during her journey to the Plains, which is a ghostly mirror to her port town home of Malacca!

Speaking of The Plains, there’s this underlying politics and intrigue woven into this part of Li Lan’s journey that beautifully captures such a deep well of emotion that she herself has built throughout her life, which she now faces, in a way! From Li Lan better understanding her own romantic feelings, facing her past, and learning more about the paranormal ties that others have to her family.

There’s also a lot of mystery surrounding Lim Tian Ching’s death and his character as a whole, so though his scenes are minimal, he really brought a lot of impact to the story.  I wish there were maybe a couple more scenes with him, including Er Lang!

Speaking of Er Lang, his character surprised me the most! He’s one of Li Lan’s closest companions during her journey and I loved how he got a lot of development closer to the end. During her time in the Plains being surrounded by wandering spirits, she realizes she can trust him to help her get out of some tough situations! However, when she does finally get back home, there’s this lingering connection between them that I was not expecting, but it was interesting how it developed throughout the last third of the book.

The story itself beautifully explores family and legacy as Li Lan finds herself on a race to get back to her body in the real world. I find that was because of Choo’s descriptive and dazzling writing! The way that scenes, dialogue, setting descriptions are so beautifully crafted is what brings the mystery and layers to the story in such a perfect way!

Though I absolutely adored this book, I did want to get into a couple specifics that lowered my rating! It would have been great to get even more background description to build more of the setting of Malaya/Malacca and The Plains Of The Dead. Choo beautifully captured the folklore and setting that I could really picture myself there, I just wish there was more! There’s also a lot of conflict brought towards the end of the book that did make the way plot threads wrapped up, feel a bit rushed (in my opinion).

Also, this is just a personal gripe because I really loved this cast of characters, I wish there was just more interactions between all of them with Li Lan! She’s such a dynamic heroine and it would have been great to have more of that connection with the rest of the cast (like Fan, Er Lang, even getting more development with Tian Bai and resolution with her father).

Now onto the Netflix adaptation & the book: Honestly, I LOVE both of them equally, there are differences that set them apart, but they both have that special thing that makes both such captivating / unique stories!

I’m thinking of maybe doing a mini review of the show (possibly?), but to break it down: Just seeing Li Lan’s dynamic personality brought to life by such an amazing actress (Peijia Huang) alongside the rest of the cast too, made this one of my favorite mini-series! (Its that good that I will gladly watch it all over again multiple times ❤)

The costumes, story and how it ties together, cinematography, dialogue, character chemistry, unraveling mystery–its all done spectacularly!

Also what makes The Ghost Bride Netflix adaptation super interesting is that it blends more of the humor which is more present among the darker/paranormal elements, that even with the story changes it really comes together as a FANTASTIC show! (Seriously this show puts focus on the humor and does a stellar job at it! The comedic timing & humor is perfect 😂💖)

The Ghost Bride is a captivating story that blends romance, the paranormal that’s rooted in Chinese Folklore and Malaysian culture! This is a story about independence and discovery as Li Lan finds herself caught in the ghostly afterlife! Choo’s historical fantasy is woven with lush writing, deeply explored themes, introspective storytelling, and above all an immersive tale about love and sacrifice!

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave Review

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood HargraveThe Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books (Bellatrix)

Release Date: September 19, 2019

Pages: 304

Available Through The Book Depository: The Deathless Girls

Summary: On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Deathless Girls is  a dark, gothic, atmospheric & feminist retelling of the brides of Dracula! With traces that evoke the feel of a historical fantasy, Millwood Hargrave delivers a character-driven tale of love, loss, and the bonds between sisters! This YA Fantasy features beautiful and descriptive writing that reads like a fairy tale! An impactful read that will keep you hooked!

I’ve been a fan of Kiran’s books for years, ever since I read her debut, The Girl Of Ink & Stars and later, The Island At The End Of Everything! She’s continuously delivered on personal 1st person narratives that follow young women’s journeys encompassing friendship, family, and independence.

Though there’s a couple more books from her I still have to catch up on, there was something that just compelled me to pick up her YA debut, The Deathless Girls and I loved it SO much! This is a dark and intense YA fantasy that I feel has NOT gotten enough hype, do yourself a favor and add this book to your to-read list: It features representation of Romani culture, f/f romance, powerful bonds of sisterhood, underlying vampire lore, and fairytale-esque storytelling!

It follows Lillai (or Lil) and Kizzy, twin sisters who are part of the Travellers and live with their fellow Traveller community that journey through the forests of Romania. The twins & their younger brother Kem, come from a family of Ursar, or bear dancers. Lil, the oldest twin, has always dreamed of being a singer or an Ursar and yet, she believes she will never match the potential of her twin sister.

But on their 17th birthday, Charani (a seer) will finally tell them their fates.

However, an unexpected attack on their community, leads them to be captured and enslaved. Now, Lil, Kizzy, Morsh, Girtie, Fen, among other kids are taken and brought to Boyar Valcar’s castle to work.

They’re all split apart and though Lil and Kizzy are still together, there’s this aching pain you feel for the other Travellers knowing they’ve been taken away from their home, family, and community.

The sister dynamic between Lil and Kizzy was beautiful, heartbreaking, and overall intricately explored. I adored these 2 brave ladies so much! You can sense how much love they have for each other and though they both carry their differences, its the quiet strengths that you see shine within them, each and every page! This also chronicles their journey to discover their own fates and take charge of a future that’s been taken from them.

Lil has grown up learning about the mysterious figure known as The Dragon, who drinks blood and is apparently immortal —however, she quickly learns from other girls working there that he takes girls from Boyar Valcar’s castle.

Though Lil’s entire world has been taken from her, she quickly realizes she finds friendship among other girls who work in the kitchen: Szilvie, Dot, and an ally with the strict head of the kitchen, Cook who also may be a Traveller like them!

She also finds herself drawn to one of the other workers there, the quiet Mira! Who we quickly learn, lost a former love to the Dragon. Their relationship is a slow-burn and takes time to develop throughout the book.

Told through an introspective and descriptive 1st person POV, it allows us to get a rich, captivating look into the Traveller culture that Lil’s grown up in. You understand the deep connection her community has with nature and how its such a distinct shift to her new life indoors of the castle.

The elements from the Iele (forest spirits), to the Boyars (lords) and princes across the land, and how the underlying tale of the Dragon ties much of the world together, these elements all weave seamlessly as the novel progresses, throughout what is set to be alluded to be the historical regions Transylvania or Wallachia.

Overall, the writing is just really beautiful, whimsical and weaves in atmosphere, world-building, history, folklore, culture, and fantastic character development all in such a way where this novel reads like a classic fairy tale.

Also, let me just say that the cover is not only absolutely stunning, but offers a lot of symbolic meaning the further you delve into the story!

The Deathless Girls, while a retelling of Dracula’s wives, is not entirely about vampires. The folklore of the the Strigoi is very much built up over the course of the novel and the foundation is rooted in the aura surrounding the Dragon. Though, nearing the later half of the book is where you get to see more folklore surrounding vampires, etc.

As for the representation, you see our main characters Lil, Kizzy and their Traveller community to be portrayed as those from the Romani culture, where you mostly see women in positions of power, such as Lil & Kizzy’s mother and the seer Chirani (who all are stated to have brown skin). There’s also f/f rep. & romance (Lil & Mira)!

The story tackles a lot of dark topics such as slavery, death, and discrimination that may not be for everyone (Cw for those topics and attempted assault). But at its heart you see that this slow, atmospheric story is also an incredibly moving tale! It delves deep into the bonds between sisters, love, and forging your own path when you find its been taken from you!

Also due to the nature of how character-driven and slow/atmospheric the story is, I personally don’t think its a book for everyone, but I feel those are its strengths that make it such a compelling book!

There’s also a deep sense of melancholy that I personally felt throughout the book, because you can’t help just sadness for Lil and her community as they’ve essentially been forced to leave their homes and have little to no way of escaping. Also, the theme of sisterhood is incredibly powerful as a plot point later leads Lil to save her younger sister!

I suppose my only minor critique is that the ending is a little bit rushed nearing the end as the story wraps up and with certain choices that our main characters make, I just couldn’t help but be heartbroken. This story is a lot darker than I anticipated, but truly at its heart its a very moving YA retelling!

The Deathless Girls is a dark YA Historical Fantasy retelling that re-imagines the backstory to the brides of Dracula! Millwood-Hargrave’s storytelling just captivates you with the elegant, introspective writing, and deeply-explored themes! If you love character-driven stories with lush prose, this is definitely a captivating book to add to your TBR!

I’m also shouting-out a fellow blogger review:

Megan from YABookers highlights why the slow pace of the novel really brings to life other important themes/elements of the story! Also, we had similar thoughts on the importance of sister bonds and how character-driven the story was!

I highly recommend checking out her review! ❤📚

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

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ With Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month right around the corner (September 15- October 15), I thought I’d recommend a list of some upcoming YA Book Releases coming out this fall, written by Latinx Authors!

The list includes: Contemporary, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Paranormal, & Retellings!

And I’m even adding in some upcoming 2019 YA Releases I’m eagerly waiting for & ones I recommend adding to your TBR right away if you haven’t already! (Get those 2019 TBRs ready!!)

With that said, onto the list!

And if there’s any I may have missed, please let me know in the comments!

Contemporary

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes1.Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Release Date:
September 18, 2018
Pages:
416
Summary: Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process? (ARC Review To Come!)

American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott2. American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date:
September 18, 2018
Pages:
272
Summary: With a strong, loving family, an incredibly loyal best friend, and a budding romance with the girl of his dreams, life shows promise for seventeen-year-old Teodoro “T” Avila. But he takes some hard hits the summer before his senior year when his nearly perfect brother Manny returns from a tour in Iraq with a devastating case of PTSD.

In a desperate effort to save Manny from himself and pull their family back together, T’s fiery sister Xochitl hoodwinks her brothers into a road trip with many stops along the road to visit loved ones from their past.

The Resolutions by Mia Garcia3.The Resolutions by Mia Garcia
Publisher: 
Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date:
November 13, 2018
Pages:
416
Summary: New Years are for fresh starts, but Jess just wants everything to go back to the way it was.

From hiking trips, to four-person birthday parties, to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable—and unstoppable. But now, with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been splintering off and growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them for each other—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, show your paintings, learn Spanish, say yes to everything.

But not even the best laid plans can take into account the uncertainties of life. As the year unfolds, Jess, Ryan, Nora, and Lee each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heart breaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems. 

Fantasy

Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria1.Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria
Publisher:
Amulet
Release Date:
October 9, 2018
Pages:
480
Summary: In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.

Magical Realism

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore1.Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date:
October 9, 2018
Pages:
384
Summary: The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price wepay to protect our hearts.

Paranormal

Seventh Born by Monica Sanz1.Seventh Born by Monica Sanz (The Witchling Academy #1)
Publisher: 
Entangled Teen
Release Date:
September 4, 2018
Pages:
400
Summary: Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.
 
Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.
 
The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.

Retellings

Pride by Ibi Zoboi1.Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Publisher: 
Balzer + Bray
Release Date:
September 18, 2018
Pages:
304
Summary: Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

Upcoming 2019 YA Latinx Books

While this list features my top 7 anticipated 2019 YA Latinx releases, definitely keep an eye out on the blog for a full list of YA & MG Latinx releases closer to (or in) early 2019!

Now here are the upcoming 2019 YA Latinx book releases I am beyond excited to get my hands on and read! I definitely recommend you add these to your TBR! ❤

1.We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

2. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (The Last 8 #1)

3.Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

4.This Just In by Maritza Moulite & Maika Moulite

5. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

6. Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

7. Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

What Latinx YA Releases are you looking forward to?

*I’ve also linked each book cover to its Book Depository page if your interested in pre-ordering (*It is an affiliate link) If you like my content & would like to support me through those links, it would mean a lot!

July 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #2)1.Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #2)

Library | Started July 1 + Finished July 5 |Rating: ★★★★☆ | Artificial Condition Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A character-driven continuation to The Murderbot Diaries! Artificial Condition follows Murderbot who is trying to learn more about its past by looking for the now abandoned mining facility, Ganaka Pit (where it went rogue). Similar to All Systems Red, I love how immersive the world is! In this novella, there’s some new characters, and its great that the tech introduced to this world gets expanded on, which in general adds even more to the world building! I did find however, that the crew that Murderbot joins in this novella were a bit forgettable and the pacing was pretty slow! However, this is easily one of my favorite speculative fiction/SFF novellas and I can’t wait to see where book 3 is headed!

Little Witch Academia Vol. 12. Little Witch Academia Vol. 1 by Yoh Yoshinari & Keisuke Sato (Artist)

Owned | Started + Finished July 8 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Little Witch Academia Vol. 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A fun, magical adaptation to the Little Witch Academia anime! If you’ve never seen it, I’d recommend watching the 2013 short & then watch the Netflix anime (its amazing!! ) So, Little Witch Academia follows Akko Kagari, who comes from a non-magical family, and attends the Luna Nova Academy (an all-female academy for witches!). The manga basically follows her journey to get to Luna Nova, making new friends (like Lotte & Sucy), and getting into some pretty sticky situations while at Luna Nova! Its a pretty quick read, but the characters, plot and art are just so well done! Little Witch Academia is a fun and immersive read that I highly recommend if your looking for a light manga to get into!

Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion3.Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion

Library | Started July 10 + Finished July 11 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | Someday, Somewhere Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Someday, Somewhere is a deeply moving contemporary that has main characters you’ll fall in love with! Told through a dual POV, this book follows Dominique and Ben and the connection + relationship that forges between the both of them! The eloquent writing is honestly what brings out the heart of each of the main characters! Ben is a musical prodigy and Dom dreams of becoming a dancer! The book starts when she sees Ben preform at Carnegie Hall and his music moves her to tears! Champion does a phenomenal job at building both Dom & Ben, from truly getting to the depths of their hearts and understanding their hopes, dreams, and fears! It was also great to see such diversity in this novel, from Dom who is biracial (1/2 white + Ecuadorian), her father is Ecuadorian, her best friend Cass is gay + black, Someday, Somewhere also explores bipolar disorder, though its subtly weaved into Ben’s POV, it becomes more of a central part of the novel nearing the end! My only minor issue is that ending was a bit rushed, but Someday, Somewhere is definitely a lyrical, moving, and character-driven YA Contemporary I recommend checking out!

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch4. Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Library | Started July 14 + Finished July 17 |Rating: ★★★☆☆ ¾ | Love & Luck Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Love & Luck was a character-driven and atmospheric YA Contemporary perfect for summer! Following Lina’s friend from Love & Gelato, Addie. She & her brother Ian are forced to stick together by their mother (or risk dropping their school sports) and make their way to Italy (to meet up with Lina), but she quickly gets sucked into a road trip across Ireland alongside Ian & his friend/tour guide Rowan. She takes with her a guide-book (she found in the hotel she was staying at)  to overcome heartbreak & with Ian’s detour through Ireland corresponding with similar stops in the heartbreak guide +sports on the line, Addie knows she has no other choice but to tag along! Welch does such an amazing job at really building her main characters and allowing you to really understand them by the end! I also loved that this book really focuses on family and friendship. However, I did find there were some issues for me from the “guide sections” of the book that really slowed the pacing, side + some ‘main’ characters being pretty forgettable, & a certain plot point that could have been expanded on!

Spectacle Volume 1 by Megan Rose Gedris5. Spectacle Volume 1 by Megan Rose Gedris (Spectacle #1)

Library | Started July 18 + Finished July 18 |Rating: ★★★★★ | Spectacle Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is a captivating graphic novel! Set in the Samson Brother’s Circus, we follow twin sisters Anna & Kat (Anna is an engineer + part-time fortune teller, while Kat is a knife thrower). The circus is stuck in the desert for some time, so to lift people’s spirits, Jebediah Tetanus, the circus owner, decides to throw a party! Anna enjoys the party as she waits for her sister, but when she returns to her room, she finds her twin sister, Kat stabbed in the back. Suddenly she learns that Kat is a ghost & Anna is the only one able to see/communicate with her. So they team up and begin to find answers over what happened to Kat! The plot, characters, magic system, paranormal elements, mystery, humor etc. are all wonderfully explored + developed! So, even with so many different elements they all fit together and your never left lost or confused, additionally the mystery just continues to build over the course of the story! The art is beautiful and there’s so much diversity from representation to body types, and nearing the end it hints at lesbian rep.! Spectacle Vol. 1 is a magical and mysterious graphic novel that I loved so much and highly recommend!

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James6. The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James

Owned | Started July 24 + Finished July 26 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | The Loneliest Girl In The Universe Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Loneliest Girl In The Universe is a thought-provoking YA Sci-Fi with so many layers! Romy is the only left aboard the space craft, The Infinity! She plans to continue her ship’s mission to make it to Earth II, but a news of a potential war on earth brings about a  lot of change for Romy on her journey! With communication cut between her & her NASA therapist on earth, she luckily gets word of a ship (The Infinity) that plans to join hers on Earth II. Now Romy is communicating with its pilot, J and the two find themselves a little less lonely as they are still light years apart! This novel isn’t just a sci-fi, with elements of mystery + thriller, as Romy has to face many different challenges throughout this book! The world-building is fantastic, the characters, plot, setting, pacing are all so incredibly done! If your looking for a unique YA Sci-Fi, The Loneliest Girl In The Universe is the book to check out!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #13

Author Interview With Astrid Scholte {Four Dead Queens}

Sacred Lies Trailer Review

Engagement In Book-Related Content & On Book Blogs {Book Blog Discussion}

Plans For August:

~ Read even more! While for July I was really happy with the quality of books I read more than the quantity, I definitely want to catch up on my TBR before my summer vacation ends! 📚✨

~ I want to try and share another podcast review & I also have a podcast/YA Book-related post I’ve been working on and can’t wait to share! (Keep an eye out on the blog for it this week!) 😍💕🎙📚✨

~ Continue with my summer reading bullet journal! ☀📚📝✨ (I may make a post about it, but I’m not entirely sure yet 😂💕!)

What books did you read this month?? 📚✨

I also recently started a Ko-Fi last month to be able to plan more bookish giveaways (US & INTL)! If you like my content or want to support my blog, it would mean a lot! 💕📚✨

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Spectacle Vol. 1 by Megan Rose Gedris Review {Graphic Novel}

Spectacle Volume 1 by Megan Rose GedrisSpectacle Vol. 1 by Megan Rose Gedris

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Pages: 136

Summary: Pragmatic engineer Anna works as a psychic in the Samson Brothers Circus, but she doesn’t believe in anything supernatural—until her twin sister Kat is murdered and comes back as a very demanding ghost. Sharing a room with her sister was hard, but now they’re sharing a body while trying to identify the killer. With few leads, a troupe full of secretive folk, and strange paranormal occurrences popping up around the circus, solving the case seems near impossible. But the murderer in their midst may be the least of their problems… 

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Spectacle Vol. 1 is an immersive and captivating graphic novel! Set at the Samson Brothers Circus, engineer Anna must solve the mystery of her twin sister Kat’s death, when she returns as a ghost! Aside from mystery, there’s also magic, elements of the paranormal, humor, & a wonderfully plotted story that will leave you eager for the next volume!

Similar to Heavy Vinyl this is another one to add to the list of my all-time favorite graphic novels!

Set in the old west, the Samson Brother’s Circus gets stuck in the desert and everyone is hoping the train will be fixed so they can move onto the next town, with water running low & the heat of the desert taking a toll on them!

We follow Anna & Kat, twin sisters who work at the circus. Anna is an engineer & part-time fortune teller, while Kat is a knife thrower. (Anna’s also built an interesting future predictor machine, which I thought was really cool & I loved how it weaved into the story later!)

Jebediah Tetanus, the circus founder/owner, decides to throw a party. As Kat is getting ready, she tells Anna to just go by herself and have fun instead of waiting for her.

As Anna is somewhat enjoying the party & drinks a bit too much, she stays for a while longer than expected and returns to her room to find her twin sister stabbed in the back.

Shortly after, she finds that Kat is ghost and Anna is the only one that can see her. When the Jebediah learns of what happened, he tells Anna that its best for her to solve the mystery in secret.

So as Anna begins unraveling the mystery, she finds herself with more questions than answers.

The plot unravels in such a great way, from the murder mystery, seeing more to the circus behind the scenes, learning more about the people in the circus & their connection to Kat, & more about the mystery surrounding why Kat has returned as a ghost & other strange/unique abilities that Kat & Anna have because of it.

What I loved about this graphic novel so much was the story! Aside from the murder mystery, there’s so much more to it than just that. It progresses in such a way where your never feeling like its dragging and your getting so much to the characters & story, while its still retaining the air of mystery!

It was great to get the perfect amount of backstory on so many great characters, from Carl, Kat’s assistant, Flora, Anna’s new friend who helps her solve the mystery, & so many others in the wonderful & memorable cast of characters!

The element of the paranormal is so well explored in Spectacle! From Kat as a ghost and the unique abilities that Anna gets, etc. the more that the unique lore about ghosts in this world, the more that it really expands on the mystery, but also makes you second guess what you thought you knew about Kat & her current situation!

I loved seeing the occurrences from seeing other ghosts, strange dreams, Kat being able to connect to Anna through her ghost & become a part of her & much more– all of these differing elements really made it stand out and was built so well into the story!

There’s also such great humor throughout the story! I found myself laughing a number of times and I really loved the sense of humor weaved throughout the story & characters.

Spectacle is also very diverse: from characters with differing body types, characters who identify as having dark & light brown skin, Chinese rep., & its hinted at, that there is lesbian rep.!

As for the art it is stunning! I really love the art-style that was used, its very detailed and colorful & overall I love this style of art so much!!I find it really goes so perfectly with the story!! Its beautiful!!

Spectacle is an all around fantastic graphic novel to check out! If your a fan of mystery, stories set in a circus, maybe even elements of the paranormal, Megan Rose Gedris’s Spectacle Volume 1 is a must read graphic novel! Highly recommend it!! 🎪✨

Book Bytes I #13

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

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

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

Adaptation News

1.To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix Trailer

With the Netflix release of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before film releasing August 17, the first official trailer was revealed on June 21!

2.The Hate U Give Trailer

The Hate U Give film is set to be released October 19, 2018 and the first official trailer was released June 24!

Book Deals

1.The Other Side Of The Sky by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Set to be released in fall of 2020, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner will be teaming up to write The Other Side Of The Sky, with Harper Teen.

The Other Side Of The Sky is pitched as a “genre-bending romance where The 100 meets a Miyazaki-inspired fantasy world, in which the prince of a hi-tech city in the sky falls into a goddess’s ancient land ruled by magicians and prophecy” (Announced June 20).

2. Ink In The Blood by Kim Smejkal

Set to be released in fall of 2019 through HMH, is Kim Smejkal’s debut, Ink In The Blood.

Its pitched as a dark fantasy “about two friends who escape from a religious temple that they believe serves a false god, only to discover the god is quite real and is bent on revenge” (Announced June 20).

More Book Deals From June 18

3.The Last Witchdoctor by Rena Barron

Set to be released fall 2019 through Voyager UK & Harper Teen, The Last Witchdoctor is Rena Barron’s fantasy debut, with a 3-book deal.

With the story set in a West African-Inspired kingdom, it follows “a girl who is descended from a long line of powerful witchdoctors, yet fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors, and can’t cast the simplest curse. When her mother performs a ritual to conjure a better daughter, one who can wake a great and terrible Demon King, she must find a way to stop them from destroying the world” (Announced June 26).

4.The Summer I Learned Chinese by Lindsay Wong

Set to be released in summer 2020 through Simon Pulse, Wong’s YA Contemporary The Summer I Learned Chinese, “tells the story of a Chinese-American teen who takes a trip to Beijing to reconnect with her roots and find herself, after being dumped by her boyfriend and rejected from every college she applied to” (Announced June 26).

More Book Deals From June 25

Cover Reveals + Title Reveals

1.Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

As of June 1, Penguin Teen revealed the cover to Astrid Scholte’s 2019 debut standalone fantasy novel, Four Dead Queens.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte“Keralie Corrington is a talented pickpocket in the kingdom of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quadrant. For Quadara is a nation divided into four regions, each strictly separated from the other. Toria, the intellectual quadrant values education and ambition. Ludia, the pleasure quadrant values celebration and passion. Archia, the agricultural quadrant, values simplicity and nature. Eonia, the futurist quadrant values technology, stoicism and harmonious community. Four queens, one from each quadrant, rule as one.

When on Mackiel’s orders Keralie steals a particularly valuable item from a messenger, what seems like a routine theft goes horribly wrong. Keralie discovers she’s intercepted instructions to murder the queens. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit–valuable information that she can barter with–Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the messenger she stole from, to complete his delivery and uncover the would-be murderer. But with Keralie and Varin each keeping secrets–and the lives of the queens hanging in the balance–everything is at stake, and no one can be trusted.”

2.#RivetedRevealsWeek

As of June 4, Riveted Lit shared a post featuring cover reveals for their Spring 2019 YA Releases!

With covers being revealed from June 4-7!

3.The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

Revealed June 6 via Bustle was the cover for Arsdale’s upcoming Greek-mythology inspired novel, The Cold Is In Her Bones.

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale is set to be released January 22, 2019!

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale“The only life Milla has ever known is the quiet, isolated one on the family farm her strict and superstitious parents forbid her from leaving. Milla’s only saving grace is her brother, Niklas, who is her one and only friend. That is, until Iris, a girl from the village Milla has never been allowed to visit, moves into her elderly neighbor’s home. The two become fast friends, and it is Iris who tells Milla why her parents won’t let her leave: a demon is terrorizing the village, possessing girls one by one with no clear sign who could be next. That is why Iris’s parents sent her away, in an attempt to save her life… but it could be too late.

When the terrified townsfolk capture and imprison Iris with the other possessed girls, it’s up to Milla to rescue her friend and break the curse once and for all. But to do that, she will have to unravel the truth about her past, and quickly, because something in Milla is changing, and she may soon be a demon herself.”

4. Slayer by Kiersten White

Revealed on June 7 via EW, was the cover + excerpt for Kirsten White’s Slayer, which takes “readers back into the beloved world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…”

Slayer by Kiersten White is set to be released January 8, 2019!

5.You’d Be Mine Erin Hahn

Revealed through Hanh’s twitter June 8, was the cover to her April 2019 Contemporary debut, You’d Be Mine!

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn is set to be released April 19, 2019!

You'd Be Mine by Erin HahnAnnie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

6. Evermore by Sara Holland

The cover (alongside an excerpt) to Sara Holland’s sequel to Everless, titled Evermore was revealed on Bustle, June 13!

Evermore is set to be released December 31, 2018!

7.The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown

Revealed on LGBTReads Blog on June 20, was the cover to Jaye Robin Brown’s upcoming novel, The Meaning Of Birds!

“Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.”

The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown is set to be released April 16, 2019!

8. Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi

Black Enough edited by Ibi ZoboiThrough Barnes & Noble Teen Blog on June 20, the cover to Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America was revealed!

It is an anthology that features “stories by award-winning, bestselling, and emerging African American YA authors on what it’s like to be a black teen in America.”

The cover reveal also featured a Q&A with Ibi about the anthology and her upcoming novels!

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America is set to be released January 8, 2019!

9.Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Revealed on June 22 via Paste Magazine, was the new cover for Joanna Hathaway’s Dark Of The West!

Hathaway’s novel follows “a pilot and a princess on opposite sides of an impending conflict” and is set to be released February 5, 2019!

Dark Of The West by Joanna HathawayHe was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Cursein Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

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.”

10. Epic Reads Winter 2019 Cover Reveals

As of June 25 on the Epic Reads blog, they revealed a number of covers for some upcoming YA Releases set to be on shelves from this December through April 2019!

Some covers include: Angie Thomas’s On The Come Up, Evelyn Skye’s Circle Of Shadows, upcoming books from Kasie West, Mindy McGinnis, Cinda Williams Chima, & many more!

11. The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

The cover to Swati Teerdhala’s debut novel, The Tiger At Midnight was revealed via Bustle on June 25! Alongside the cover was also an excerpt!

The Tiger At Midnight is set to be released April 23, 2019!

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

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

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

12. We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover to Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel We Hunt The Flame on June 26!

“Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man to kill in the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her village. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating men foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira were exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir showed any of the pity or compassion he felt, his father would dismiss him as weak. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya — but neither of them want to be. Their paths cross when Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can save their cursed world, and Nasir is sent to kill her. But an ancient evil stirs, and the prize may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.”

We Hunt The Flame is set to be released May 19, 2019!

13.Song Of The Dead by Sarah Glen Marsh

The sequel to Marsh’s YA Fantasy, Reign Of The Fallen, had its cover reveal via Bustle on June 27!

Song Of The Dead is set to be released January 29, 2019!

14. A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

On June 28, Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover (& excerpt) to Tahereh Mafi’s upcoming book, A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, which is set to be released October 16, 2018!

“It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.”

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1.Penguin Teen 2019 YA Preview

On Penguin Teen’s website, as of June 22, a post revealed upcoming 2019 YA releases  that the Penguin Teen team is looking forward to releasing!

Many include debut authors or anticipated releases from already released series/authors!

What I’m Currently Reading & YA Books On My June TBR!

Book Blog Discussion BannerThere’s been a lot of books I’ve made made plans to read over summer and now that I’m officially on summer break, I’m hoping to read as much of these as I can this month!

So, today I’ll be sharing with you what I’m currently reading and the other books I’m planning on getting to!

Currently Reading:

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl1.Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I was able to get an ARC of Neverworld Wake from Yallwest and finally started reading it early last week, but sadly put it down to catch up on a graphic novel & Running With Lions (which I’m hoping to post my review of next week!). I’m still very interested in reading Neverworld and want to try and finish it within the coming week + post my review!

From what I know about it & have read so far, it follows Beatrice Hartley who lives in her small town working at her parents ice cream parlor.

She’s been disconnected from her 6 friends after graduation for a while, with the loss of her boyfriend Jim.

Then she returns with her friends to “Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world…”

Soon, they receive a mysterious knock at the door and I think, find themselves caught in a Neverworld Wake??

Overall I’d really been enjoying it so far and want to finish it! I don’t read much mystery, but Neverworld Wake has had me intrigued!

June TBR

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova1.Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova (Labyrinth Lost #2)

I read and loved Labyrinth Lost when I read it back in 2016! It centered around Alex who is a bruja and an adventure that takes her on a quest to find her family after a spell she preforms, causes them to disappear!

From the Latinx rep. to themes of family (and sisterhood), all of which I could relate to so well, I fell in love with this book, from the story to the world–everything!

Now with Bruja Born finally out, I am beyond excited to get back into this amazing world & follow even more of Alex’s adventures!

Mariam Sharma Hits The Road by Sheba Karim2.Mariam Sharma Hits The Road by Sheba Karim

Similar to Neverworld Wake, I was also able to get an ARC of this from Yallwest! This book basically centers around a group of friends who go on a road trip after their freshman year at college!

As always, I’m always looking to read more #OwnVoices + diverse books and overall, Mariam Sharma just sounded like such an amazing read, perfect for summer, so I’m definitely going to be reading this one soon as well!

And being a college student myself, I’m also just looking forward to reading more college-centered & about college-aged YA characters!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir3.A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

I’m such a big fan of An Ember In The Ashes quartet, so of course I would definitely have this on my TBR list! I can’t wait to read where Sabaa takes the story, characters, everything!!

I’ve had just– so many theories for where I think A Reaper At The Gates will be going, so I’m just counting down the days until this is out!

I’ve really been looking forward to reading more from Laia, Elias, etc. and am beyond excited to finally get my hands on A Reaper At The Gates!

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi4.Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

Similar to the other ARCs above, I was also able to get a copy of Not The Girls Your Looking For at Yallwest & even met Aminah, who was so nice! Getting the chance to talk to her about the importance of representation and books in general was just so great & I’m beyond excited to read her debut novel!

Definitely check out the summary for Not The Girls Your Looking For below & add it to your TBR if you haven’t already!

“Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.” 

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman5. A Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

I don’t usually read many anthologies, but when I first read the summary (& saw the gorgeous cover) of A Thousand Beginnings And Endings, I knew I’d have to read it!

This book will contain 15 short stories from authors of East and South Asia background, writing re imagined folklore and mythology!

I love reading about mythology and the blend of fantasy + mythology in this anthology sounds like it’ll be right up my alley!

I also do want to try to get into reading more YA anthologies and in general, it just sounds like an overall great read!

The Game Of Hope by Sandra Gulland6.The Game Of Hope by Sandra Gulland

Additionally, this was also another ARC I was able to get from Yallwest @ PenguinTeen’s booth, out of I think 3 other choices, The Game Of Hope was my pick!

Set in 1798 Paris, France, this novel is a YA Historical Fiction that centers around Napoleon’s step-daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais.

Wanting to go into this book without much knowledge, I do know it essentially follows Hortense as she goes about her daily life in boarding school, studies, arts, etc., but is unsure of where her future lies when her mother marries Napoleon.

I don’t usually read much historical fiction, but this novel just intrigued me from the summary and I’m beyond excited to read it!

And that wraps up my June TBR! 📚✨😍

What are you planning to read this month? Any of the books on your TBR similar to mine? Let’s Discuss! 📚✨☀

Book Bytes I #11

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

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

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

Adaptation News

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han1.To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Film Release Date

With the recent announcement that the adaptation for Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before would be coming to Netflix this summer, it was recently announced by Jenny Han herself & Collider that the film now has an official release date as of April 10!

The ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ film is set to be released August 17 on Netflix!

2.Dumplin’ Soundtrack

Announced in 2017, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy had been picked up to be adapted for film with Jennifer Aniston attached to star. As of April 11, Dolly Parton tweeted + shared a blog post about writing new music for the upcoming film.

Dumplin’ has no released date announced yet.

The Prince And The Dressmaker by Jen Wang

3. The Prince And The Dressmaker picked up by Universal Pictures

Announced April 16 by Deadline, producer Marc Platt and Universal Pictures picked up the rights to Jen Wang’s graphic novel, The Prince And The Dressmaker.

No release date, etc. was announced.

4.The Hate U Give Release Season + First Look!

Announced April 26, EW shared a First Look at the movie adaptation to Angie Thomas’s novel The Hate U Give!

While no set release date has been announced, it has been confirmed for a 2018 (looking at Fall) release date!

Book Deals

1.Flame In The Mist by Renée Ahdieh 2 Free E-Novellas

As of April 2, through PenguinTeen’s website, Renée Ahdieh announced she would be releasing 2 free e-novellas as a part of her Flame In The Mist duology!

They are set to take place in between the ending of Flame In The Mist and the beginning to Smoke In The Sun.

The 2 e-novells are titled:

Yumi & Okami

Yumi is set to be released April 24, 2018 & Okami is set to be released May 15, 2018!

2.The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

Set to be released in 2019 by Flux Books, Barthelmess’s debut The Quiet You Carry is about “17-year-old Victoria, who, after she’s kicked out of her toxic family, must contend with a chaotic foster home, dodge prying eyes at school, hang onto her college dreams, and somehow protect the stepsister she left behind” (Announced April 2).

3.Cacophony by Kelly Powell

Set to be released in Fall of 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry Books, Powell’s debut Cacophony is a “a work of magical realism, following a violinist working with a lighthouse keeper to ‘solve a murder on an island that is also home to deadly sirens who prey on the inhabitants.’(Announced April 10).

4. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Set to be released in Summer of 2019 by Scholastic, Kuhn’s YA Debut,“I Love You So Mochi, is about a Japanese-American fashionista who journeys to Japan on a quest of self-discovery after her college plans fall apart; along the way, she reconnects with her estranged grandparents and finds romance with a med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot” (Announced April 12)

5.The Candle And The Flame by Nafiza Azad

Set to be released in 2019, Azad’s debut The Candle And The Flame is “Set in a city along the Silk Road that has become a refuge for those of all faiths, the YA fantasy is about a young woman with mysterious origins and two clans of powerful djinn who threaten to destroy her peace, and the unlikely alliances she’ll make to survive” (Announced April 12).

6. Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

Set to be released in Spring of 2019, Fan’s steampunk fantasy, Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon is “In a world inspired by Qing dynasty China, a warrior girl, Anlei, teams up with a young thief to save her village from shadow spirits. But, after arriving at the Courts of Hell, a discovery challenges everything they know about who the real enemy is” (Announced April 12).

7.Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Set to be released in Fall of 2019, Yoon’s debut Frankly In Love, is “a fresh and relatable take on identity and race as seen through the eyes of a Korean-American teen caught between his parents’ traditional expectations and his own Southern California upbringing” (Announced April 12).

8.All Boy’s Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Set to be released in Winter of 2020, Johnson’s YA Memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue ” takes stories from his life growing up as a queer black teen to show readers how they can fight for themselves or be allies in the struggle for equity and equality” (Announced April 12).

9.Rebel Seoul Companion by Axie Oh

Axie Oh author of her 2017 debut Rebel Seoul, announced she would be working on a companion novel set to be released in Fall of 2019 (Announced April 13).

10.Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

Set to be released in spring 2019, Sarvenaz Tash author of The Geek’s Guide To Unrequited Love and Three Day Summer, announced she would be releasing a “futuristic rom-com” titled Virtually Yours, which is “about a college freshman who tries out a virtual reality dating app, only to be matched up with the high school ex she’s still not over” (Announced April 24).

Cover Reveals + Title Reveals

1.Girl Squads by Sam Maggs

As of April 9, Nerdist revealed the cover for Magg’s upcoming novel:

Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History

There’s also a Q&A along with the cover reveal going more in depth to the design of it!

Girl Squads is set to be released October 2, 2018!

2.Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Happily Ever After revealed the cover to Spooner’s upcoming fairy-tale retelling Sherwood along with a Q&A on April 9.

This Robin Hood retelling is set to be released in March of 2019!

3.Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Revealed on Nic Stone’s twitter as of April 13, was the cover to her upcoming YA Contemporary Odd One Out!

Her book is about “three kids of color trying to navigate the intersections of friendship and romance and figure out who it’s okay to love.”

Odd One Out by Nic Stone is set to be released October 9, 2018! + An excerpt of Stone’s book was also shared on EW as of April 20!

4.Outrun The Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

LGBTQReads revealed the cover for Tammi’s upcoming Queer, Greek-Mythology Fantasy, Outrun The Wind!

There’s also a discussion w/ the author on her inspiration for her novel!

Outrun The Wind is set to be released November 27!

5.A Map Of Days by Ransom Riggs

As of April 25, Penguin Teen and USA Today shared that Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Series will be adding a 4th book! A Map Of Days, according to USA Today, “kicks off a new trilogy in Riggs’ best-selling young-adult saga…”

Both a cover reveal and release date were announced!

A Map Of Days is set to be released October 2, 2018!

6.King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

EW revealed the cover to Leigh Bardugo’s upcoming novel in her Grishaverse, centering around Nikolai, titled King Of Scars as of April 30.

King Of Scars is set to be released January 29, 2019!

Publisher News

1.Epic Reads Bookmojis!

Announced April 3, Epic Reads revealed they launched an app for book-lovers called:

Bookmojis

Its a free app that ” includes a selection of YA emojis, GIFs, and stickers for us book nerds to use in all of our texts!!

According to their blog post, they’ll also be releasing new packs every month based off different book fandoms!

Its available through Google Play & Apple!

Tours

Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro1.Anger Is A Gift Tour

Announced by EW April 4, debut author Mark Oshiro, will be touring for his upcoming book Anger Is A Gift!

“A story of resilience and loss, love and family, Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift testifies to the vulnerability and strength of a community living within a system of oppression.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.”

Anger Is A Gift is set to be released May 22, 2018!

A sneak peek of Oshiro’s upcoming novel was also released as of April 10! You can find links to download it through the publisher’s site Here!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand2.Furyborn Tour

EW announced as of April 18, that author Claire Legrand, will be on tour for her upcoming book, Furyborn!

Described as an epic feminist fantasy, Furyborn is one of the most anticipated new YA fantasy titles of 2018.

According to the publisher, Claire Legrand’s book “follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world… When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood… One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable ― until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined. As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world ― and of each other.

Furyborn is set to be released May 22, 2018!

And that wraps up the YA Book News for April 2018! ✨📚😄

Thoughts on April’s YA Book News? + Do you have a favorite piece of YA Book News from the month? 📚✨📰💻

March 2018 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

Here are the YA Books releasing this month, I can’t wait to read! 😍📚🎉

Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi1.Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy of Orïsha #1) (March 6, 2018, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (FierceReads), 544 Pages)

Summary: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo2.The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6, 2018, Harper Teen, 368 Pages)

The Poet X ARC Review

Summary: Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo3.To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (March 6, 2018, Feiwel & Friends (FierceReads), 352 Pages)

ARC Review To Come (Currently Reading)

Summary: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth4.Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth (Second Sentinels #1) (March 15, 2018, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 324 Pages)

ARC Review To Come

Summary:Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.

But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a super villain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?

Finding Felicty by Stacey Kade5.Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade (March 20, 2018, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 304 Pages)

Summary:Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.

But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.

Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

The Astonishing Color Of After by Emily X.R. Pan6.The Astonishing Color Of After by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20, 2018, Little Brown Books For Young Readers, 480 Pages)

Summary:Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi7.Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (March 27, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 400 Pages)

Summary:For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Moonstruck Vol. 1 Magic To Brew8.Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic To Brew by Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle (March 27, 2018, Image Comics, 120 Pages)

Summary:Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late.

 

What March 2018 Books Are You Looking Forward To? 😍📚❤✨🍀

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black Review

The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk Of The Air #1)

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary: Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: The Cruel Prince is a solid start to a unique YA Fantasy trilogy! There’s intrigue, immersive world-building, and a plot that goes in such unique directions with surprises at every turn!

I’m honestly so surprised with my rating!! I really thought I would give this book at least 4 stars. I’d heard so much buzz and great things about The Cruel Prince, but sadly it just didn’t live up to all the expectations as I’d hoped for and fell a bit short.

Now, even though my rating is a bit low, I will absolutely be continuing with this trilogy. Overall I found myself to be even more invested in the story as I neared the end.

The book takes off right away told through a 3rd person POV of Jude, her older sister Vivi, her twin sister Taryn, and her parents going about their day when a mysterious man arrives at their doorstep.

This man we learn, Madoc, is actually Vivi’s father and comes from the land of the Fae (which makes Vivi ½ Fae). He murders the girls’ parents and is forced to take them back to Faerieland for the mistake that their mother made of leaving Madoc and the land of the fae behind.

Now, told through a 1st person POV, 10 years have passed and all Jude wants is to feel a sense of belonging in Faerieland. Madoc has trained all 3 of them, but Jude just wants to prove to herself and to the other fae royalty, like Prince Cardan, that she does belong.

Jude and her twin sister Taryn continue to face ridicule and bullying from Cardan and his friends, which I saw as such defining aspect to Jude and her actions.

I really sympathized with her and the anger she felt. Being one of a few humans in this world given protection through a higher level fae, she just wants to find a sense of belonging, now knowing she can never fit in the real world again.

While I don’t want to give to much of the plot away, I will say the story continues as Jude wants to gain her place in this land and will use any means she can to achieve her goals.

What I really enjoyed about The Cruel Prince was how wonderfully the setting merged with the themes and complex elements of the story. For example in the land of Elfhame the descriptions Black uses, make the story almost cinematic and immersive, while also building/weaving in politics, intrigue, and mystery to the world so easily, which I really loved.

The beginning couple chapters were really strong. They perfectly set up the dark, magical and mysterious world of The Cruel Prince.

Another aspect I really loved was the development of certain characters. They were ones I honestly either wasn’t too much of a fan of or felt they were a bit flat, but as the story progressed, I ended up enjoying where their development led them.

Those characters include: Prince Cardan, Prince Dain & Locke (one of Cardan’s friends). All 3 of those characters really surprised me more than I thought they would and really had a lot of development throughout the story.

Especially Prince Cardan. He changes significantly as the story progresses and I truly felt he surprised me the most. I really wasn’t expecting to like him so much, but the more that is discovered about him + his unique development, made him one of my favorite characters of The Cruel Prince.

Vivi, Jude’s older sister, was probably another one of my favorite characters + one I adored from the very beginning! What made her so interesting was how she viewed the land of the Fae, not only being the oldest, but also seeing the unique way the author explored her strong connection to the real world than the Fae. Vivi’s choice to exclude herself from this world as much as possible, was to me, just a really unique direction and was explored in such a great way! (+ There is also an f/f relationship, when we learn that Vivi has been dating a girl from the real world)

As for Jude, what I liked the most about her was the intrigue and deception that builds and becomes such a vital part to her as a character.

Now as to why my rating was pretty low:

I felt there was a mix of things that made this book a bit disappointing for me. To start, I felt the pacing became rather slow for me personally and it made it a bit difficult for me at times to stay truly invested in what was going on. It made the plot feel much less gripping + in general, I felt the plot easily lost its way at certain points.

Another aspect that didn’t sit well with me (*this is completely personal/subjective*) was the dynamic of Jude w/ her twin sister Taryn. Having a twin myself, I was so happy to read about twin sisters, especially in YA Fantasy! However, there were certain moments or scenes that I felt made it difficult for me to really see them as twins.

For example, I felt that Jude/Taryn’s personalities were so starkly different that they felt less like twins and were more just sisters + opposites just being called ‘twins.’  We had Jude who was the tougher of the two & Taryn who was the more timid/emotional one.

While I understood why that was done, personally I found it would have made their relationship much more interesting if they had more similarities than differences and see how that played out instead. Also I found they had such few scenes together!~

There was also moments where through the writing, it would feel like there wasn’t much build-up to what was going on & then out of nowhere things would happen. I felt it made it really difficult for me to really invest myself in those moments because they came & went so quickly!

I also did find it difficult to really buy that Jude was the anti-heroine/ morally grey character I’d seen so many people talk about. I felt that those moments were more sporadic for me and she wasn’t as dark/cunning as I had expected.

Regardless, as I found myself reaching the end I closed the book feeling more positive and intrigued to see where the sequel will take the story (the epilogue really surprised me!).

The Cruel Prince is an immersive YA Fantasy that takes you on a magical adventure exploring the politics and intrigue in the land of the fae! The writing allows not only for various themes and topics to be explored, but also sets up an intriguing + magical world. Filled with mystery, politics, and magic, Black’s novel develops (though a bit slowly) to leave readers eager for the next installment!