Author Interview With Lilliam Rivera Featuring Never Look Back {Latinx Heritage Month Series 2020}

For the second post in my Latinx Heritage Month Series today’s guest is Lilliam Rivera, award-winning author of YA novels such as The Education Of Margot Sanchez and Dealing In Dreams! Her latest novel Never Look Back released just last week and this modern-day retelling follows 2 Afro-Latinx teens navigating love, identity, and much more! 🌿🌺

Here’s Lilliam to introduce what Never Look Back and what its all about:

“Never Look Back is a modern retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in New York with Pheus, a wannabe bachata singer who meets and falls in love with Eury, a Puerto Rican displaced from her home by Hurricane Maria and followed by an angry spirit. It is a story about generational trauma, faith, and love.”

Next, I asked Lilliam what inspired her novel and she shared that at its root, this a novel about hope:

“My novel is inspired by Hurricane Maria and how it affected my family living on the island. I needed to find a way to write about the rage I felt during that time while I watched our government do nothing to help those on the island. Never Look Back was my way of searching for hope.”

I also recommend reading Lilliam’s phenomenal essay from Elle titled “One Year After Hurricane Maria, We Are Still Picking Up The Pieces.”

All 3 of Lilliam’s novels have been set in the Bronx, so she delved into what unites these stories:

“My first novel The Education of Margot Sanchez is a contemporary coming of age story. Dealing In Dreams is a dystopian tale set in a world where girl gangs rules the streets. And finally, Never Look Back is my retelling. What unites them is that they are all love letters to the place I was born and raised.”

Never Look Back is told through dual POV, so I then asked Lilliam what inspired this and whose she enjoyed writing the most:

“I wrote them in alternating POV because I wanted to challenge myself. I had a lot of fun writing Pheus. It was the first time writing from the POV of a boy. Eury was harder to write because she was shy and dealing with many difficult emotions.”

Lilliam’s contemporary novel delves into magical realism and is also a retelling! So I then asked her if there was any particular element of these genres she enjoyed writing the most (mini spoiler):

“I didn’t really think about the different craft elements I was introducing. I only thought about the story and what the characters wanted to say. Although I don’t have a favorite, it was a lot of fun to explore the underworld.”

Alongside that, I asked Lilliam what she was most excited for readers to discover about her new novel:

“I just want them to follow the journey Pheus and Eury take and to root for them. I love these characters and I hope readers love them too.”

To conclude our interview, I had to ask Lilliam if there are any Latine/Latinx YA books she recommends:

“These novels are coming out this year and should be on everyone’s radar:

Mark Oshiro’s Each Of Us A Desert

Yamile Saied Méndez’s Furia

Amparo Ortiz’s Blazewrath Games

Zoraida Córdova’s Wayward Witch

Thank you to Lilliam for joining me on the blog today and hope you’ll all join me for next week’s 3rd post in my Latinx Heritage Month Series!

You can order Never Look Back from Rivera’s local independent bookstore Skylight Books or from today’s featured Latinx-owned indie called The Lit Bar located in the Bronx! 💖📚

Anna K. by Jenny Lee ARC Review

Anna K. by Jenny LeeAnna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee (Anna K. #1)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Pages: 400

Available For Preorder Through The Book Depository: Anna K.

Cover Design: Erin Fitzsimmons

Summary: Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

*Received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher* *CW: drug use *

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Anna K. is a YA Contemporary debut that puts a dazzling spin on Anna Karenina! This modern-day retelling, follows a group of wealthy teens as they navigate relationships and the drama that encompasses their lives. Lee builds a realistic and diverse cast of characters, while also layering deeper themes and issues! 

From the very beginning, your introduced to a cast list of over 10 characters and although for me it seemed a bit intimidating at first, once you delve into the world of Anna K., you’ll see why this story just works so well being told from multiple POVs.

Let me tell you I was NOT expecting an ARC of this in the mail (so thanks so much to the publisher)! I’d been really looking forward to reading Anna K. after I’d seen its cover reveal last summer. There was just something about the glamour and intrigue of this modern look at Manhattan society that just had me wondering what was in-store for Anna K. and the rest of the crew!

Another thing, this is a modern-day of Anna Karenina and while I personally have never read it, I felt from what I do know about the story Lee did a fantastic job at really taking influences from the original, while making it completely her own. With the moments I felt aligned closely with Anna Karenina, I never felt taken out of the story either. (*I also recommend reading Jenny Lee’s beautiful author’s note at the end too!).

While Anna K. is our main character, the novel starts off with Lolly S. (17) and Steven K., Anna’s 18-year-old brother. With their anniversary shortly arriving, Lolly is thrilled! But, when she quickly learns Steven had been cheating on her, she’s rightfully furious.

Steven knows the only person who can attempt to reach Lolly is Anna K., but until she arrives we learn about Dustin L., Steven’s tutor, who’s an anxious, bookish kind of guy.

What made his character a nice contrast to others in our main cast, is that he’s not from the upper part of Manhattan society. He kind of acts as the level-headed one who helps out Steven, while also undergoing his own journey when he falls for Kimmie S., Lolly’s younger sister who’s going through some depression after getting injured and having to take a break from her professional ice skating.

The backstory is built mainly in the beginning of the story but there’s a lot of mystery to how it plays an important part in the novel. However, the further you read you better understand the history that all of these characters have and what ties them all together.

With so many POV’s, it was assumed that I might get kind of lost. But let me just say that the more pages that flew by, I absolutely fell in love with this flawed and very real cast! So much appreciation for Lee telling an expansive story through such distinct characters! The 3rd person perspective allowed for many layers/differing sides of these characters to be explored which added a unique depth to the world crafted in Anna K.!

As for other characters we also have Anna K.’s boyfriend Alexander W. & his sister Eleanor, Alexia Vronsky, known in their circle as a player and heartbreaker, and Beatrice D., Vronsky’s cousin.

Anna K. is the one in society who everyone sees as the perfect, flawless socialite of Greenwhich and Manhattan. She’s a skilled equestrian, has her college boyfriend Alexander, and has been fortunate enough to keep out of the internal drama that seems to plague much of her circle…however that’s about to change.

She meets Vronsky on her way to see Lolly and Steven at Grand Central and yet, the two seem to be instantly attracted to each other.

From there you see how threads of these characters connect, revealing their relationships, dynamics and secrets that they keep from each other. Lee really built the setting of upper society into a world of her own through its characters, their status, and the way they navigate their lives.

To me it felt like your not really supposed to agree with a lot of the drama, personalities and societal norms that goes on in their circle. So, I felt that’s what made me really immerse myself into characters worlds and their heads a lot more, because (at least from my perspective) your not really supposed to agree with a lot of what they get tangled up in. I loved that I didn’t always agree with these characters decisions, such as the status and enormous amount of privilege that they carry, seemingly unaware. Not always “liking” some of these characters made me connect to them on a much deeper level when you see how much baggage they carry and their attempts to change over the course of the story!

I won’t spoil what happens, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about Kimmie & Dustin in the beginning (Kimmie’s character, took a bit to get used to). I was surprised at how much their dynamic grew on me and I loved following both of their journeys!

The setting of this novel shows a world of opulence and privilege, where there’s this dual side filled with parties, drugs, and sex as the norm. When looking at it closer, I felt this story was essentially about wealthy teens, given little adult supervision, as they are left to grapple with complicated issues on their own.

From Anna’s perspective, hers is a journey to better understand what she wants out of life and figure out who she wants to become, as she navigates her relationship being with Vronsky, while not feeling ready to tell her distant boyfriend Alexander.

With the fact that Anna has never really involved herself in drama or gossip, there’s this urgency to her story that makes you understand her struggle to come to terms with her complicated love life. Through the worry of gossip, heightened expectations of her in society, and facing truths she isn’t even sure she’s ready to face…your rooting for Anna not only to figure it out, but learn what she’s looking for during this process. You also see how Vronsky changes as he realizes his feelings for Anna (though he has a lot to work on, you can still appreciate his growth).

I felt like Kimmie & Dustin’s relationship had a clear story arc that carries throughout the book which was so beautiful! Their story was one of healing, love, and friendship that gets developed through both perspectives.

There’s so many themes that I felt Lee layered through each of these characters from family to to privilege, love, loneliness, mental health/seeking therapy (beautifully explored through Kimmie’s POV!), and much more! It also challenges racism and double standards.

In regards to family you see these different sister and brother dynamics explored from Anna & Steven, including Kimmie & Lolly, also Dustin & Nicholas! Anna and Steven’s, in my opinion, was the more realistic and heartfelt. Through the obstacles they face, they are both there to uplift, help each other and have so much respect for one another― I can’t wait to see how their strong brother-sister dynamic is explored in future books!

I also felt that Dustin and Nicholas’s brother dynamic was explored so well and throughout the course of the story you see in the little moments they bond or remember when they were younger is what shows their love/care for each other. Throughout the novel, there’s a lot of flashbacks from their POVs that I felt their relationship had so much history to it. There was just something about how Lee layered their stories that made it really come to life.

I also loved how diverse this cast was: It mainly features Korean-American & biracial representation (Anna + her older brother Steven), Dustin, who’s Black, adopted & Jewish, and there’s there’s interracial couples! Anna K. also takes time to explore the Korean culture of the K. family from Anna’s perspective, Steven’s, and their parents.

Now onto more of the specifics that lowered my rating, though this book really left me feeling sad to say goodbye to these characters (& YES, I can’t wait for the sequel): First is the pacing! At first it was moving pretty quickly, but with so many detailed POVs it can’t help but be drawn out at points. I also wished there wasn’t *too much lingering on certain couples and their conflict, because it would have been much stronger to portray more personal, heartfelt development between them. For me personally, I felt the ending was a bit rushed, though I loved how it focused on Anna!

Anna K. is a modern-day retelling that at its core is about a group of teens trying to find happiness in their privileged, drama-filled lives! Featuring a diverse cast of characters, a variety of themes, this is a debut with a lot of hidden depth that subtly weaves itself into its pages! Lee’s retelling of Anna Karenina that hints at more to come!

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!

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? 📚✨📰💻

LA Times Festival Of Books Wrap-Up {2018} + {Swag Giveaway!}

This past weekend I went to the L.A. Times Festival Of Books! Its a great festival hosted at USC every April where there are signings, celebration of art, music, and of course–tons of authors & books! 😍✨📚

If you’ve never gone, I highly recommend going if you have the chance! There’s always such great and interesting booths–and not just ones about books!

There’s entertainment, education, food, writing booths & so much more! (Especially great book swag!)

For Saturday April 21 it was a pretty easy schedule with only 4 authors on my list:

A Crown Of Wishes Cover RevealRoshani Chokshi author of The Star-Touched QueenA Crown Of Wishes, & her most recent, Aru Shah And The End Of Time (which I’m almost done with!!)

Sandhya Menon author of When Dimple Met Rishi

Sara Saedi author of Never Ever & Maurene Goo author of I Believe In A Thing Called Love 

I was able to meet all these authors & get my books signed! Throughout the festival I also checked out a lot of the booths, got some swag, and bought a book!

Shout-out to Maurene who recognized me b/c I also met her last year to get an ARC of I Believe In A Thing Called Love!😭✨❤💗

And Sara Saedi! I really loved her Peter Pan retelling Never Ever, so now that the sequel is out, it was great to be able to talk to her about it & what to  expect!

I also got to chat/see some lovely book blog friends again, such as Jordan from: The Heart Of A Book Blogger

Paige: The Paige Turner

& Allison: @AlliCrystal

On Sunday April 22, I had a few more authors on my list & was able to see almost all of them (sadly Nic Stone’s signing was too late for me & I couldn’t find my copy of American Panda in time to see Gloria Chao 😭):

The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonFirst I met: Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and co-author of The Tiny Pretty Things duology! {We talked about writing, then she asked me about tea-cup animals {which are in The Belles} & which one I would want–I said foxes or dragons!! 😆😍✨🦊🐉 & chatting w/ her was just so much fun!}

Before I met Dhonielle Clayton, I actually attended a panel that featured her, Sabaa Tahir, Marie Lu, & Tochi Onyebuchi for: Eat. Read Sleep: Fantastical Young Adult! This panel was moderated by Sarah Enni who runs the podcast: First Draft Pod.

They discussed the fantasy worlds they create, diversity and the importance of representation, how they go about world-building, etc.! It was a great panel & they were so funny!! 😂✨

I don’t usually attend panels when I go to book events, but this one was just fantastic & I’m so glad I attended!

Next I stayed around the YA Stage to meet:

Flight Season by Marie MarquardtMarie Marquardt author of Flight Season 

Emily X.R. Pan author of The Astonishing Color Of After (Which I still have yet to read!! But will very soon! 😭✨)

& Mary H.K. Choi author of Emergency Contact!

Getting the chance to chat w/ each author was just so great! Especially Marie & Mary, who I got to fangirl with over their amazing books!!

I also met some cool bookish people in line, such as Kalie who blogs about books at: A Bit Fairy Tale!

Afterwards I decided to make my last stop at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth to What You Left Me by Bridget Morrisseypick up an early copy of Bridget Morrissey’s upcoming YA Contemporary novel:

What You Left Me

I’d heard about it a while back and I definitely decided to keep it on my radar b/c it sounded like a great YA Contemporary & couldn’t miss the opportunity to get an early copy and meet the author!

Out on June 5, here is a summary: Martin and Petra meet for the first time at graduation, and though they’ve shared the halls of their high school for four years without crossing paths, there’s an instant connection the moment they’re seated next to each other at the commencement ceremony.

Then a car accident puts Martin into a coma, and Petra is somehow left picking up the pieces, using friends, family, and shared dreams to keep their surprise connection going.

Together they must unlock the truth of his situation, and with time running out, their bond becomes Martin’s best shot at waking back up to the life he’s left behind.

Overall talking with each author was amazing! They were all so kind! Getting the time to ask them questions about writing and their books was incredible!

And now for the giveaway!! I was at the Mysterious Galaxy booth & found some Furyborn swag (an exclusive sampler + bookmark!)

So not only is this my first swag giveaway, but its also my first international one!
All you have to do is RT the tweet below & follow my twitter!

& I can’t share it yet, but I’ll also be having another LATFOB giveaway soon! (Stay tuned on my twitter ^_^)

So overall it was another fantastic weekend at the LA Times Festival Of Books!! It just gets better & better w/ each year!! I can’t wait to return again next year in 2019!

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? 😍📚❤✨🍀

February 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton1.Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel Of The Sands #3)

Owned | Started January 31 + Finished on February 2 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |Hero At The Fall Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Rebel Of The Sands Trilogy concludes with such a character-driven and immersive finale! Amani and the remaining rebels band together to take down the sultan. There’s so much character-development and the depth to the world of Rebel, the magic system, and politics continue to develop till the very end! My issues however continue to be the time-jumps/quick pacing through locations and how they tend to rush through character development/interactions & setting description/atmosphere. However, above all Hero At The Fall really wraps up Amani’s adventure & the trilogy as a whole, to a very satisfying conclusion!

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones2.Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #2)

ARC| Started February 5 + Finished on February 7|Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |Shadowsong  Full ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Shadowsong is an enchanting and captivating finale to the Wintersong duology. I loved every moment of this book! Very much a darker continuation, this novel takes place 6 months after the events of Wintersong, focusing on Liesl as character with her internal development + growth as she comes to terms with having left the Underground + the Goblin King behind. The elegantly constructed POV continues to brings such depth and life to the many aspects from world to characters, music etc. of this phenomenal duology. The dynamic between Liesl & Josef is heavily explored in this novel & plays such a huge role in this novel. Shadowsong is a captivating, elegant, heart-wrenching, and brilliant finale to the Wintersong duology! (This novel is #OwnVoices for bipolar disorder)

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton3.The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles #1)

Owned | Started January 23 + Finished on February 9|Rating:★★★★☆ |The Belles Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Belles seamlessly weaves in political intrigue, themes and discussions of beauty, all through a descriptive and dazzling writing! Camellia Beauregard wants to secure her spot as the Favorite, but not everything is as it seems. Soon, the idea of beauty and power begin to shift as Camellia learns in her quest to prove herself as the Favorite! The descriptive, dazzling, and magical world of Orléans immediately transports you and the mythology/history of the world itself is explored in such an intriguing way! Though the pacing does slow throughout the middle, the intrigue, magic & mystery of the plot keeps you immersed! (#OwnVoices for black rep.)

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman4.Starfish by by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Library |Started February 12 + Finished On February 16 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ | Starfish Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Kiko wants nothing more than to get into her dream art school. Living with a family, who never seem to understand her, she learns what family means to her and figures out who she wants to be along the way. Kiko has anxiety and because of that, its difficult for her to speak her mind. However, throughout the novel she knows she has support from friends, both new & old, that help her find her place in the world.The writing flows so beautifully, though the heaviness of the story is there. The writing really allows you to see the characters in such a unique way and are given such depth. Starfish is a character-driven and beautifully written YA Contemporary that builds to an inspiring message of hope! (#OwnVoices for Japanese-American rep. + Social Anxiety)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black5.The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk Of The Air #1)

Library | Started February 18 + Finished on February  22 | Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾ | The Cruel Prince Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Jude and her 2 sisters were forced to go to the land of the Fae when they were young, however 10 years later all Jude wants is to fit in. Both Jude & her twin sister Taryn are bullied by the fae royalty and this just fuels Jude’s anger to prove herself to them. The descriptions of the setting and various themes of politics, intrigue, and mystery all weave together really well. There were characters I was unsure how I felt about in the beginning, but ended up truly surprising me as I read. While there were elements I really enjoyed, sadly there was a mix of reasons why I rated the book low: I did find the pacing to slow a bit and felt the direction of the plot got a bit lost at times. Personally, I also didn’t really connect with or enjoy the twin sister relationship between Jude & Taryn. I also found that big moments nearing the middle and end really had much build up, so it felt difficult to really invest myself. I also found that the morally grey/anti-heroine aspects of Jude’s character that many had mentioned, felt more sporadic than I had hoped.However, the ending did leave me interested in seeing what happens next.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo6.The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

ARC | Started February 24 + Finished on February 25 | Rating:★★★★☆ ½ | The Poet X Full ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The Poet X is such a powerful and unforgettable YA Contemporary. Told through poems, Xiomara goes on a journey of questioning and exploring many different aspects of her world from love to religion, and finding her voice through poetry. There were a number of topics explored and discussed such a relationships, body image/self-love, and tackling sexism. Character-driven and impactful, the poems are filled with so much heart, emotion, and depth. The power of Acevedo’s words shines with each page. I also really loved the dynamic between Xiomara & her twin brother Xavier and seeing their relationship change and grow as the book progressed. The Poet X is a must read, so definitely keep an eye out on this book in March! (#OwnVoices for Dominican rep. + there is also gay & Trinidadian rep.)

Additional Posts From This Month:

February 2018 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

Literary Listens: Audio Drama Podcasts That Need Book Adaptations

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones ARC Review

Shadowsong by S. Jae-JonesShadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #2)

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary:Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

*Received ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway!*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Shadowsong is darker, but continues to be as enchanting and captivating as Wintersong! Liesl undergoes a life-changing journey to find herself when the days of the Underground are long gone, but still linger close. Shadowsong is a captivating + magical tale of family, belonging, and acceptance!

I remember reading Wintersong last year and falling absolutely in love with it! Now that I’ve finally finished Shadowsong (in practically 2 sittings), I’m still emotional over the fact that this enchanting + magical duology has come to an end (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)♥♥*:✧ From Liesel’s journey to the Underground in Wintersong to her new journey in Shadowsong, I loved each and every moment of this amazing duology & am sad it’s over~♥♥

*S. Jae-Jones author note in the beginning, is a must read! Its just honest, powerful and explains the complexities of this novel as it will touch on mental health, self-harm, addiction, and especially explores bipolar disorder (which Liesl has + as does the author)*

Its been 6 months since Liesl left the Underground + the Goblin King behind and we see now how she feels more lost than ever. Above all, its clearly seen and explored how that journey changed her.

Shadowsong starts off with letters that Liesl is writing to her brother Josef and the lyrical writing just pulls you in immediately. She longs to be reunited with her brother and to ensure his safety.

Liesl has slowly found that her passion and connection with music is slowly fraying now that she has come back from the Underground and left the Goblin King.

Darker than Wintersong in different ways, we see how escaping Goblin Grove and the Goblin King changed her and how she sees the world.

I loved how focused this novel was on Liesl and her character. Reading from her intricately constructed POV, its clear she is driven by the love for her family, to better understand who she is and who she wants to become.

I sympathized with her so much, understanding how lost she felt and that sense of uncertainty for where she was headed in life. Knowing the truth behind Josef being a Changeling impacted her in so many ways, from how she viewed her world now that she returned from the Underground to how that drove her to take a long journey to be by her brother’s side. I felt so much for her throughout this novel~

However the very fate of the world could be in danger when the Wild Hunt threatens to break through the thin veil between the mortal and magical world of the Underground.

Through the elegantly constructed POV’s we see how Liesl + Josef’s relationship has changed, but how their deep connection for music still keeps them tethered to each other.

Shadowsong not only explores the deep connection we share with others, but also how those connections forge us in so many ways and how we view ourselves.

We also see more into how the Underground impacts not just Liesl but countless others who’s ancestors had some sort of connection to it (through art, music, etc.). This also introduces new characters, the Prochàzkas who join Liesl on her journey to avoid the Wild Hunt. They were very unique + interesting characters and through them you see how the magic is much more complex and goes beyond than just the Goblin Grove & Liesl in Wintersong!

I also loved that the theme of family and bonds is such a prevalent element of this novel. Its shown not only through the strength of the bond between Josef & Francois, the sisterly bond between Liesl + Käthe (which is explored much more deeply nearing the end!), but also the distant +complex bond between Liesl & Josef.

Liesl and Josef’s dynamic was heavily explored in this novel and it left my heart both full & broken. We see how distant Josef has become and how that begins to impact how they relate to the world. Yet, the bond that still gives them something to hold onto as they both possibly begin to lose their tethers to reality.

S. Jae-Jones writing in this novel is just as captivating & enchanting as in Wintersong! The way she elegantly constructs Liesl’s descriptions or immersive thoughts just leaves you understanding so much about her world and the characters from just a few sentences.

There’s a few POV’s throughout Shadowsong and each and every one I felt, was so important to the story and really helped to build the intricate plot till the very end! There’s a mysterious POV from the past, Liesl’s POV, and Josef’s POV. Each was written so beautifully that I found myself re-reading passages + lines over and over because of how beautifully S. Jae-Jones weaved the words together.

Additionally, the symbolism in this novel is just brilliantly executed which reveals so much yet keeps the perfect hint of mystery about the magical and dark worlds explored both in Wintersong & Shadowsong!

My only minor issue is that I did want a bit more page-time from the Goblin King~😭♥ (Despite the minor issues, overall for me the Wintersong duology is absolutely a 5-star series ❤ <3)

Shadowsong is a dark, but powerful conclusion to the Wintersong duology! Through beautifully constructed and elegant writing, Shadowsong explores themes of family, self-acceptance, and the bonds that make us who we are! This impactful and captivating finale will leave you hooked till the very last page!

October 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 7

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore1.Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty Full ARC Review

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: Wild Beauty was such a lush and magical tale, one I’ll never forget! It follows Estrella and the Nomeolvides women as they live on La Pradera, conjuring up the most beautiful flowers. However, when a mysterious boy named Fel appears, Estrella and the cousins uncover more about the mysteries that surround the gardens of La Pradera. The writing is gorgeous, the plot is unique + wonderful, and delves into many themes that weave their way throughout the novel, such as love, family, and sisterhood. There is also such fantastic representation from the Latinx culture, genderqueer, and bisexual characters! Another amazing novel from Anna-Marie McLemore, I highly recommend!! ❤ ❤

The Backstagers Volume 1 by James Tynion IV and Ryan Sygh2.The Backstagers Volume 1 by James Tynion IV + Rian Sygh

The Backstagers Volume 1 Full Review

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Pages: 112

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Such a fun and diverse graphic novel! When Jory attends a new all-boys school, his mom convinces him to find some sort of after-school activity to join. He soon finds himself joining the drama club and becomes friends with the stage crew aka The Backstagers! He quickly finds out that there’s magical tunnels backstage and soon gets tangled up with the adventures backstage! As for diversity, there’s so much representation from Jory (black) to Aziz (Middle-Eastern), gay and trans rep. too! The Backstagers is a fun graphic novel with a fantastic cast of characters, great magic/fantasy elements, and themes of friendship/adventure woven throughout!

Elizabeth And Zenobia by Jessica Miller3.Elizabeth And Zenobia by Jessica Miller 

Elizabeth And Zenobia Full ARC Review

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Pages: 208

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This was a fun, atmospheric and light paranormal middle grade story! The plot is so unique and it has a lot of important themes of family, self-growth, and friendship. Following Elizabeth & her imaginary friend Zenobia, they embark on adventures while staying at Elizabeth’s father’s childhood home which is supposedly “haunted” and they learn more about it.

All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry4. All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry

All The Wind In The World Full Review

Publisher: Algonquin Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 264

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Sarah Jac and Jame Holt travel across ranches to gain enough money to one day stop working and settle to have a ranch of their own. However an accident causes them to flee and then they find themselves on the Real Marvelous (which is supposedly cursed). Slowly they find themselves drifting apart and it is heartbreaking to read, but also so emotional 😥 All The Wind In The World is so atmospheric and weaves in contemporary-dystopian/magical realism genres together so well and in such a unique way! Its was also great to see diversity, with Sarah Jac who is mixed-race and an m/m relationship developed through out the novel. 

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada5. This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (This Mortal Coil #1)

This Mortal Coil Full ARC Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 432

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This Mortal Coil is a brilliant sci-fi/dystopia debut! I loved this book so much! We follow Catarina Agatta, who is a brilliant gene-hacker and her geneticist father, Dr. Lachlan Agatta who left her with an important mission. Soon she embarks on a journey with Cartaxus soldier Cole to unlock an antidote which could save thousands of people from a rapidly mutating plague. Suvada introduces such fascinating technology in a detailed and complex dystopian future. This is an action-packed, character-driven tale you don’t want to miss!

Life After Legend by Marie Lu6.Life After Legend by Marie Lu (Legend #3.5)

Life After Legend Full Review

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: October 2017

Pages: 21

My Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: As a long-time fan of the Legend Trilogy, I was so happy when this short epilogue was announced! It really brought back the emotions of reading all 3 books again. You get a little more background to the world of Legend from Day’s perspective and what happened to him parallel to the events of the Champion epilogue. This was such a fantastic addition to the Legend Trilogy that definitely will leave readers happy!

Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao7.Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (Rise Of The Empress #1)

Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns Full Review

Publisher: Philomel Books

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 363

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: An immersive and magical retelling of the evil queen! This novel follows Xifeng on her journey to fulfill her destiny fore-told by her aunt. She has a darkness within her and knows she cannot escape both it and her destiny. The world is rich and atmospheric as we uncover more about Xifeng’s role to become empress and the legends and magic that spread across the land. I will admit a lot of the pre-release hype did impact my enjoyment of the book just a little bit (with some plot/world elements not as expanded on as I would have hoped). However, this is a magical, dark, and immersive retelling that definitely has me eager to read the sequel!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Fall}

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄📚✨

+ I have some new blog posts (aside from book reviews) I can’t wait to share for November! 😍📚✨