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!

Advertisements

June 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina Vakueva1.Heavy Vinyl Volume 1 by Carly Usdin +Nina Vakueva (Heavy Vinyl #1)

Owned | Started/Finished June 1 |Rating: ★★★★★ | Heavy Vinyl Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A fun, diverse, graphic novel with so much girl power set in 90’s New Jersey! Heavy Vinyl follows Chris who works alongside her all-female co-workers at her local vinyl store. With anxiety, she wants to fit in with her new friends but hasn’t gotten the chance! That is until a case of missing singer introduces her to the world her co-workers have been hiding from her: their vigilante fight club! Now she’s tagging along with them to solve the mystery and maybe uncover more along the way! This is an incredible graphic novel that’s character-driven, diverse, and just a fun story! Friendship is at the heart of Heavy Vinyl and it really shows with each page. Additionally, there’s a lot of fantastic representation among the main cast/side characters: f/f & m/m relationships, lesbian rep., black & Puerto Rican rep., interracial relationships! I adored this graphic novel so much & highly recommend it!  I think there’s only 1 volume planned which is sad, because it ends on at place leaving you to want more from the story & characters, so definitely pick it up & support it, you won’t be disappointed!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters2.Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Owned| Started June 3 + Finished June 7 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½| Running With Lions Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A coming-of-age YA sports contemporary, that really focuses on characters! Sebastian Hughes is ready for his last summer of soccer training camp with his teammates, before senior year. However things get a bit complicated when his former friend, Emir Shah, shows up. Though regardless of their past, Sebastian is eager to make Emir feel at home! Through a 3rd person POV, the characters, plot, summer setting/atmosphere come to life! A huge aspect of this novel is the way Winters explores sexuality, with characters identifying as gay and bisexual + through the teammate’s support + acceptance of each other throughout the entire book! The characters really grow as they spend their time at Camp Haven and I loved seeing their friendship dynamics with each turn of the page! The plot, characters, etc. are all wonderfully developed and the pacing is great! Highly recommend checking out Winter’s debut!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl3. Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

ARC| Started June 9 + Finished June 12 |Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾| Neverworld Wake Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Neverworld Wake was an intriguing YA Contemporary that blends with science fiction! Beatrice Hartley gets the opportunity to reconnect with her friends from boarding school at an estate, since the year or so since her boyfriend Jim’s passing. But when a mysterious man arrives, he tells them they’ve been caught in the Neverworld Wake and only one person can make out alive by the end. The mystery that surrounded Neverworld and how the info was revealed was both delivered and explored at perfect moments throughout the story. While the plot and mystery remain such huge parts of the story, I did find myself not enjoying this book as much as I’d hoped. The writing (which is 1st person) never really made me find a connection to Bea as a character and with the simplicity to the writing, some elements of the story, like side characters were pretty forgettable. However, what definitely made Neverworld Wake an immersive read, was definitely the mystery, and exploration + complexities to the Neverworld!

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

ARC| Started June 13 + Finished June 18 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½| Not The Girls You’re Looking For Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Aminah Mae Safi’s debut explores the complexities of family and friendship (especially female friendships) in her debut! I connected with Lulu, the main character, from the very first page! She’s outgoing, not afraid to speak her mind and I just–loved her character so much.  This novel explores the messiness of friendship in an honest + complex way, and its such a huge theme of the story. Safi really allows for both friendship & family to be explored, and I was able to really see the many different sides to these dynamics. The unique plot, themes explored, character dynamics, etc. all came together so wonderfully in Not The Girls You’re Looking For to make for such a fantastic YA Contemporary!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir5. A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

Library| Started June 19 + Finished June 25|Rating:★★★★☆| A Reaper At The Gates Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is very much a darker continuation to the An Ember In The Ashes series! Character development and lore/mythology are such huge parts of this book and really take center stage. I loved seeing the development and growth to Laia, Helene, and Elias. They are such phenomenal characters and you really see where their fates lead them in this book! War and the dark aftermath of it are explored in this novel and its just heartbreaking. While this was such a great book, I found for me personally that the pacing in the first 1/2 or so made this book a bit difficult for me to really love it as with the previous ones. With the pacing, I felt that with the urgency of the stakes that are given + alongside the writing that made side characters, setting, etc. feel a bit under-developed and not as fully immersive for me in previous books. However regardless of that, as soon as I reached the end, I needed the next book right away. So, I am beyond excited to read the final book and see what Sabaa has in store for the world/story of Ember! 

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #12

Audio Dime Museum Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Currently Reading & YA Books On My June 2018 TBR!

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye Exclusive Cover Reveal

Dark Ages Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Plans For July:

~READ MORE!! I feel like I just haven’t been reading much as I’d hoped (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) & before summer ends, really want to catch up on my TBR! If you have any tips to read more, definitely let me know!! 😭💕📚📚

~ Post more podcast reviews for Literary Listens! June was my first month posting audio drama podcast reviews & they were such fun posts to make!! I really hope to review/recommend more audio dramas next month too!! 🎙✨💖

~Continue working on my summer bullet journal 😍📒💕☀

What books did you read this month?? 😍📚

+ What are your bookish goals for July? Lets discuss in the comments!! ✨✨

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir Review

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

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Pages: 464

Summary: Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

*A Reaper At The Gates review has major spoilers*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A Reaper At The Gates is a dark, haunting, and character-driven continuation to An Ember In The Ashes series! Character development, expansion on lore and mythology take center stage as war looms on the horizon!

Wow, where to start with this book! The characters grow so much throughout Reaper:  Laia, Elias, and Helene are faced with supernatural forces as they come to terms with the path that destiny has laid out for them!

To start I loved the immense growth we see from each of the main characters! There is so much internal development that they undergo from acceptance to heartache.

What I found so heartbreaking, was reading about the separation between Laia & Elias! With both of them on their own journeys and learning how they must accept or navigate the destinies/prophecies that are leading them closer to their fates.

Laia is now fighting to save her people, Helene must make sacrifices as she leads the way for battle, and Elias must choose between the people he loves and his role as Soul Catcher if he’s to prevent ghosts from taking over the mortal world.

I loved the development to dynamics with Helene, Harper, and Dex! Seeing how they help Helene as she tries to make her way back to Antium to take down the Commandant.

Their dynamics between Helene, Harper, and Dex (at least from what I remember from book 2), feel so much more developed in this book and we really see the powerful bond they’ve forged with each other throughout this journey.

Laia is on a quest to take down the Nightbringer and won’t let anything get in her way. She meets a new friend and reconnects with familiar faces along the way.

One of the new characters introduced, who I really loved was was Musa! He was Laia and Darin’s new friend who helps them on their way to come up with a plan against the Nightbringer! His page time was definitely cut earlier than I would have hoped, but I am beyond excited to see where his journey is headed in book 4!

I also wish Darin had more page time!

Aside from new characters, secrets are revealed, and there’s so much character development as the plot expands and what is set for the finale, is clear!

While A Reaper At The Gates definitely has its heartbreaking moments, the ending and parts throughout definitely remind us there is hope for the beloved characters we’ve followed so far! There is one scene in particular at nearing the end that really surprised me & I can’t wait to see where it leads a couple of our main characters!

Elias’s story focuses so much around his fate as the Soul Catcher and how his journey is about him letting go of his humanity to accept the role he has been chosen for.

It was heartbreaking to read how the love he has for his friends and family slowly had to fade away in order for him to accept the magic he needed as Soul Catcher in The Waiting Place.

I will admit, what makes this book so difficult for me to rate a full 5 is the pacing for the first half! Because of it, the stakes didn’t feel as high as with the previous books and it wasn’t until the last half (or a bit after) that I finally found the story picking up!

Because of that, there was a lot of elements from supporting characters to plot pacing that felt a bit off for me.

The writing made elements such as setting, supporting characters, etc. feel very under-developed, for me personally. But as I made my way to about the 50% mark, I definitely found myself connecting better with the story.

What broke my heart, honestly was ch. 53 (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) I’m still not over it!! As an avid RPG gamer, this chapter reminded me very much of a scene that’s similar in one of my favorite video games and it just–left me so emotional and devastated!!

The idea/themes of destiny and fate are explored so much in this book! I find that those themes always allow me to connect even more to a story because they are themes I just really love exploring and find they add so much to a story!

War and its lasting affects are also huge factors that are explored in the later 1/2 of Reaper and are so heart-breaking, but very much reflect the world today. Tahir explored these themes that leave you so impacted and shaken.

The mythology and lore of the world is also given center stage as they get woven in deeper not only into the story, but to the characters as well!

Tahir balanced mythology, character dynamics, plot, all so wonderfully that finally reaching the end, I am still unsure how I will be able to wait for Book 4!

A Reaper At The Gates is the epic continuation to Tahir’s, An Ember In The Ashes Series! The mythology, characters, themes and so much more all weave together to bring a tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat for the finale!

Dark Ages Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Dark Ages PodcastDark Ages created by Brandon Kraemer

Release Date: May 17, 2018 (Trailer) & May 24, 2018 (Episode 1)

Episodes: 1

Running Time: Currently Episode 1 runs to 1 Hour & 9 Minutes

Summary: High fantasy. High culture. Low attendance. For the staff of the Rivercliffe Museum of Mostly Natural Histories, the only thing harder than attracting patrons is suffering each other…until a new exhibit results in a world of trouble marching up to their front gate.

My Thoughts: Dark Ages is a comedic, high fantasy audio drama! With an expansive world, solid cast of characters, brilliantly written, and complex story, this newly released audio drama is one to definitely check out!

After finishing The Bright Sessions series finale, I was on the look for even more audio dramas to add to my already filled subscription feed.

As I was browsing twitter, I came across Dark Ages!

The summary sounded so unique and interesting and because of my love of the Audio Dime Museum, I was definitely intrigued to check out another museum-centered podcast!

It was fantastic and easily one of my new favorites! I am beyond excited to see where the next episode and series as a whole, is headed!

The story is very intricate and complex, that I was worried it would be difficult to follow along, but with each passing minute I found myself understanding even more of the intriguing story and world!

Episode 1, The New Exhibit (aka The Crown of Shadow’s Dawn), begins with the Dark Priest conducting a ceremony that brings back The Dark Lord. And after his 999 year slumber, he’s ready to reclaim and conquer worlds, alongside his goblin army, and his Crown Of Shadows Dawn.

But, to his surprise its gone!

Though its clear its a very expansive world in just this first episode, the backstory to how the museum got the crown was weaved in so perfectly and expanded on what we heard in the previous scene through The Dark Priest & Lord!

As we learn of his plan to get the crown back, we are then taken to the city Rivercliffe, located on the planet of Middle Elsewhere.

The local museum suffers but not on new exhibit day! However, as it turns out the new exhibit is for none other than, the Crown Of Shadows Dawn!

The lore of the crown expands as we learn that one of the employees of the museum worries that they should look into it more before setting it up for display!

Now as we are introduced more of the staff, we learn of the great threat outside their museum doors, The Dark Lord and his army, eager to find the crown!

The descriptive writing not only builds a paranormal and fantastical setting, but also easily introduces you to the expansive world of the Dark Ages Podcast!

Characters, from their very first introductions, are incredibly developed and well rounded, and while this is the first episode there is quite an expansive cast of characters which is great!

I did find it hard to keep track of them all at some points (name-wise), but of course it is just the first episode and after reaching the end, definitely had a better understanding of each character!

The dialogue is so clever and brilliantly executed that each of the voice actors delivery, really allowed each character to stand out!

There were so many amazing characters and I really loved them all! I can’t wait to see how they develop even more over the course of the show!

For example, Nick! Though he is an employee of the museum, he is tasked by Marwood (the curator) with staying away from the crown.

According to the Marwood, he’s a thief who has been known to steal exhibit pieces due to curiosity.

I just really loved how his character was introduced and overall he was such an interesting character!

Again, while there were so many interesting and wonderfully developed characters, I also loved Malison (the legal attorney to the museum), Marwood, and the Dark Lord!

Malison is introduced in the beginning, but I loved how her character is developed in an interesting way near the end! Getting more to her backstory and how it played into the plot made the ending to the first episode surprising and overall a great set up for the rest of the series!

As Marwood tries to keep his museum safe from the invasion, we definitely learn more about him and just how much he cares about the museum and how important the crown is for the future of it!

The writing brings so much life and personality into each character, the setting, lore and fantastic comedy that’s weaved throughout the entire episode!

As the plot progresses with the Dark Lord’s arrival, the whole museum scene where the staff gets split up and tries to trick or go after the goblins was so well done and hilarious! I loved that entire scene, which basically runs for the majority of the episode! It really revealed more about the characters and was just so incredibly well executed!

The end of the episode its revealed Malison is also a sorceress and used dark powers/legal work (& help of the underworld) to keep the crown from returning to the Dark Lord, when he, his army &the museum staff finally reach the exhibit.

As the episode comes to an end, its revealed that the Dark Lord compromised to get his crown as long as he stays as an exhibit alongside the it.

The employees are now in charge of looking over him as he’s stuck for a year in the exhibit.

Now its clear he will regain his power alongside the crown as he plans to use that time and wait until the contracted time is up.

The ending left me wanting the 2nd episode right away and with so many theories on where the story is headed!

The Dark Ages podcast starts off on an incredibly high note with its first episode! The superb writing delivers a stellar cast of characters, brilliantly weaves comedy with fantasy, and delivers a plot that clearly has so much in store! The Dark Ages audio drama podcast is definitely one to listen to if your a fan of comedy, dark/high fantasy, intricate lore, and vast world + wonderfully developed cast of characters! ✨🎙

That concludes my 2nd audio drama review! There are definitely more audio drama reviews I plan to recommend & can’t wait to share! I hope to continue with this new addition to Literary Listens because there are just so many great audio drama podcasts out there that do such a phenomenal job with storytelling and I’m hoping my posts have inspired you to check them out! 🎉✨

Are you interested in the Dark Ages podcast? Are there any audio drama podcasts that you recommend? 🎙✨

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye Exclusive Cover Reveal!

As a part of Evelyn Skye’s Skye Guard, I’m happy to be sharing with you today an exclusive first look at the cover for Skye’s 2019 YA Fantasy novel:

Circle Of Shadows

“Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart.”

Now for the first look at the cover for Circle Of Shadows

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Circle Of Shadows is book 1 in a duology, which is set to be released January 22, 2019!

Similar to the covers for her Crown’s Game duology, I love the focus on the landscape!

I really love the contrast in colors from dark to light!

Its great how the design from the cover with its typography and the illustrations really take center stage on the cover!

Overall this is such a great cover! (´▽`ʃƪ)♥♥

Are you looking forward to reading Evelyn Skye’s Circle Of Shadows?? ✨🏰⚔

What are your thoughts on the cover? 😍✨📚

Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi ARC Review

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae SafiNot The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: June 19, 2018

Pages: 336 (327 ARC)

Summary: 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.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a YA Contemporary that explores with such complexity: friendships, love, family, and self-growth! Safi’s debut also seamlessly weaves in humor while navigating a complex and heavy topics!

Through a 3rd person POV, Safi’s debut centers around Leila “Lulu” Saad as she’s continuing to navigate her life + high school with her friends: Audrey, Lo, and Emma by her side!

But aside from high school there’s also family, friendships, and so many different facets to her life that are explored throughout the entire book! From the very beginning Lulu came to life on the page and with each and every moment, Safi continued to develop her character with so much depth!

I loved that there were just–so many different sides of Lulu’s life that are explored and seen throughout.

Friendship is a huge element of this book, obviously seen through Lulu and her core group of friends. As the friendship hits a few bumps along the way, it allows us to explore the complexities of it through Lulu’s eyes as she finds herself attempting to mend the conflict that has driven her friends apart.

Safi tackles the messy aspects of friendship in what I found to be an honest and complex way that is a big element to the story!

With Lulu a bit lost and unsure of how to mend and repair those bonds, it allowed for numerous amounts of page time of seeing Lulu’s complexity and the differing sides of her life!

It really allowed for me to connect to her even more and see her struggle to find a balance with various obstacles that appear as the story progresses.

Lulu was easily my favorite character of the entire book! She’s outgoing, reckless, sarcastic, and some would say “imperfect” but that’s what makes her such an incredible character!

She loves going out to parties, making out with guys, drinking + hanging out with her friends, etc. and I loved how she’s very outgoing and just always willing to have fun!

For me personally, at certain moments it definitely takes time to be very outgoing, but reading about Lulu and how confident she was, was just really inspiring and I just loved reading about a character who’s personality is different than mine but also very much like mine in ways too!

She is very much trying to find a space for herself, both as a biracial teen (white mother & Muslim + Iraqi father) finding where she fits in with her other family members, & overall just on her own.

I loved how Safi explored Lulu’s character and made it such a grounded element to the story!

Family is also a huge aspect to this book as Lulu confronts her uncertainties of her identity as she spends Ramadan with other family members and also explores the complex relationships/dynamics with them.

Additionally, I loved the sibling dynamics explored with her older brothers Ben & Reza. Though they aren’t present for the whole novel, their moments with Lulu are done so well as we see the sibling banter between them and as they try to help Lulu navigate the rift between her friends.

I also loved how integral her parents were! Her relationship with her mother and father is explored so well throughout the entire book. For me I did find the growth and development was slow and gradual and something that really took its time to develop and change, which I loved!

Also the way Safi crafted them as characters, their development/dynamic growth with Lulu and overall through Safi’s writing-style, they really did feel so real and I found them to be so memorable and real!

While there’s definitely memorable parents in YA Contemporary, there’s just something about Safi’s complex writing that added unique layers to Lulu’s parents, Aimee +Ahmed as well!

From family to friendship, Safi makes it clear that there’s so many differing sides and the dynamics and relationships we have with them aren’t just one sided and I loved how she explored that through her writing.

There’s also a character named James who Lulu finds herself falling for and I love how their relationship was developed! She finds herself really opening up to him over the course of the story before + after the obstacles with her friends arise!

She’s very outgoing + bold and it was great seeing that part of her shine through even more as she got to know him!

Plot-wise, it was very unique! There was never a moment where I knew where the plot was going and I found that made this reading experience so great!

From Lulu’s family life, school, celebrating Ramadan, etc. I loved the way Safi developed her plot while also making it both slow and fast paced & having work perfectly for the story!

Not The Girls You’re Looking For also discusses a number of complex/heavy subjects involving consent as it becomes a relevant topic to the overall story.

There’s just so much I loved about this book!! From the amazing focus on family and family dynamics that are so central to the story, importance of finding yourself, and the messy/complex dynamics of friendships!

Overall Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a must read YA Contemporary! It explores numerous topics from friendship, family, self identity, and so much more! Safi navigates the real and messy moments in life, while also balancing with the wonderful and memorable ones too!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl ARC Review

Neverworld Wake by Marisha PesslNeverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Pages: 336 (324 ARC)

Summary: Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice’s boyfriend—changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers… and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Neverworld Wake is a YA Contemporary which brilliantly blends mystery with science fiction! The development and uncertainty surrounding Neverworld Wake delivers so much to this intriguing mystery story, that is both haunting and thought-provoking!

Even as I’m writing this review, I am so torn on how I should rate Neverworld Wake! I’m leaving it at 3.75 though am conflicted on whether I should bump it up to a 4, because there were things I really loved/liked, and some things I wish could have been better.

Regardless, I really did find Neverworld Wake such an interesting story, that was a very interesting reading experience from start to finish! And I do hope to check out Pessl’s previous book Night Film at some point & her future books, because the way she crafted the mystery of Neverworld Wake was just so great!

I can’t remember exactly how I heard about this book, but from both the summary and eerie + haunting cover, this sounded like such a great mystery read!

Told through a first person POV, we follow Beatrice Hartley, who is spending the summer after her first year at college, working at her parent’s ice cream parlor.

However, when an opportunity arises for her to head to an estate (Wincroft) and reconnect with her best friends from boarding school after the passing of her boyfriend Jim Mason, she is hesitant at first, but believes it’ll finally allow her to find closure.

Then after a close call that almost causes a car crash, a mysterious man arrives explaining to them they are now a part of the Neverworld Wake.

And by the end, only one person can live.

What I really loved about this novel, was the mystery, development, and exploration of the Neverworld Wake. The complexities to it kept me so invested in the story!

It essentially gathered Beatrice, Whitley, Kip, Cannon, and Martha’s experiences/life events, etc. and it all blended together to create a Neverworld Wake, where they each relive the same day for a certain # of hours.

The exploration of the Neverworld with how it related to each of them, the mystery they were solving surrounding Jim’s death, the intricate time/space aspects etc. were all explored so well and delivered at such perfect times throughout the book , that it never felt info-dumped or under/overly-explained.

There was a perfect balance of information given about it to keep you guessing, but also on track with how it evolves throughout Neverworld Wake.

Because its told through a first person point of view, it was definitely easy for me to get a lot of character/internal development from Beatrice. It even allowed for the mystery and uncertainty of the story to deliver plot twists & the story in general, in a way that was very easy to follow and allowed for each element of Neverworld to build in a brilliant way, where it never got confusing.

There were particular names/references which I personally related to classic stories (like Alice In Wonderland) through the introduction of a figure from their past at boarding school called the White Rabbit.  For me that gave it another level of mystery, almost magical, and otherworldly sense that classic stories such as Alice In Wonderland offer.

Not sure if that was Pessl was going for, but I found that made Neverworld Wake even more interesting and immersive.

There was also the introduction to this fictional book called: The Dark House Of Elsewhere Bend by J.C. Gossamer Madwick, which really builds itself into the story as it progresses.

It added another level of mystery and added something unique to the story and overall it sounds like such an interesting book when you learn more about it!!

Neverworld Wake also really focuses on the plot, mystery, and interesting world/world-building, that there is little to no romance in the book (Only through Neverworld/general flashbacks Bea has about her time with Jim).

The mystery of the novel is built in such a way that honestly left me guessing each and every moment, because when you think you figure out how Jim died, you get even more pieces to the puzzle and I loved that!

They are all introduced and developed in a great way that doesn’t leave you lost as you meet more characters and find out how they connect to Jim’s story.

Now what I found to lower my rating were a couple of aspects such as writing-style, slow pacing, and word choice for a couple lines (planning to see if they are in the FC & share them soon!).

As mentioned above, were following the story from a first person POV, told through Beatrice’s eyes.

From the writing-style in general, I never really found an attachment to Beatrice as a character. I felt her personality didn’t shine through at all to be honest. While I was definitely invested in the story and what was happening, I never really found a point in the story where I ever really connected with her as a character, even though we were following her and getting a lot of her inner thoughts, etc.

The writing-style never really allowed her to stand out.

Because of that, it also made surrounding/side characters (maybe aside from Martha & a couple other characters) not entirely memorable.

Additionally, while we are told Beatrice knew these friends in high school and were inseparable, I never really felt there was a friendship dynamic between them & Beatrice at all (or at least through the writing and execution of their dynamics, I never really felt it in the story). I could definitely feel the relationship/friendship between all the friends, but never with Beatrice.

At points overall, the simplicity to the writing-style made elements of the story feel a bit generic and forgettable.

However I will say that the writing in my opinion, really delivered in developing and intricately expanding on the mystery, Neverworld Wake as a whole and how they tie together.

Neverworld Wake is an eerie and immersive YA Contemporary that focuses and shines on the plot, mystery, and complexities of the Neverworld Wake! Merging contemporary with science fiction, and mystery, Pessl’s novel delivers an intricate story with a plot that will leave you guessing till the very end!