Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes ARC Review

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle MilanesAnalee, 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?

*Requested an ARC from the publisher*

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Analee, In Real Life is Milanes’s latest YA Contemporary and one you don’t want to miss! From exploration of anxiety & finding confidence, fake dating, family, a possible wedding on the horizon and so much more Analee’s real life gets a bit more complicated!

Janelle Milanes is easily one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary authors! After gushing about her debut, The Victoria In My Head, it was no surprise that I would of course pick up her next book!

I’m so filled with emotions right now, I’m not entirely sure how my review will turn out, but Analee, In Real Life has easily become another one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary books and I HIGHLY recommend you pick it up! I had so many expectations for how Analee, In Real Life would turn out and I’m happy to say it exceeded all of them and surprised me in so many ways!

Milanes delivers her plots in ways I never expect & I love that so much and does it through a hilarious and relatable first person POV!

So Analee Echevarria’s life goes in very unexpected directions: her mother died 3 years ago due to ovarian cancer and is still grieving, her father met someone very different from her mother and is set to marry her (& Analee’s grandparents don’t approve), & her ex-best friend Lily abandoned her when she needed her most!

To escape, Analee plays an online RPG as Kiri a night elf! This character is everything Analee isn’t, but aspires to be: brave, outgoing, never afraid to take chances!

Though she isn’t exactly alone, because she plays alongside warrior Xolkar, who in reality is Harris. They’ve never actually met (with Analee living in Florida & Harris in Seattle), but they talk about so many things, some random, some personal (about family), etc.

And Analee knows she has feelings for him! But she questions whether it can even work, considering they’ve never met.

Not only that, but Analee isn’t exactly all for her father marrying Harlow. She does yoga, is extremely health food conscious, and has asked Analee to write a speech for the wedding, which is only 3 months away!

School isn’t any easier either. Analee doesn’t have any friends and still remembers the times when the popular crowd, like Matt McKinley (who Analee knows is a genuinely mean person) made fun of her name and for years, her now ex-best friend Lily Nadarajah, has moved on to hang out with the popular crowd, including the most popular guy & girl in school Sebastian Matias and Chloe (who are no longer dating).

But things get a bit interesting when Analee and Seb get partnered up for an in-class bio project. Analee is convinced he doesn’t like her all that much and is even more miserable knowing she’s stuck working with him.

Things begin to change however, when Analee overhears Seb trying to get Chloe back. So, Analee offers a bit of advice and Seb comes up with a plan, for Analee to get a chance at having Lily be her friend again, while Seb wins Chloe back!

The two hatch a plan to start a fake relationship!

Now as she’s prepping for her dad’s wedding, trying to figure out who her loved ones felt further away, & getting closer to her soon-to-be stepmom Harlow, & 8-year old step-sister Avery, this fake relationship with Seb forces to step out of her comfort zone and learn more about herself along the way!

Analee was a spectacular main character, though she is shy, when she has something to say, over the course of the story she gets the courage to speak her mind! She cares so much about her friends and family, that she does put them first before herself, but she is an incredibly wonderful main character & I loved follow the story through her!

She’s a fan of gaming and is obsessed with the Harry Potter books!

There were so many incredibly developed aspects to this book from the themes like exploration of family, love, loss, and growth! The writing, the plot, the diversity, the list goes on & on!

Over the course of the book, Analee learns more about Harlow than she expected and begins to understand just how much she misjudged her. Alongside Harlow, the same goes for bubbly Avery, soon to be Analee’s little step-sister. The two throughout the story, teach Analee so much about accepting, changing things for the better, and being more open to new experiences! ❤ Their dynamic was so beautifully explored and I loved Avery’s sass 😂😂 (she definitely gave Analee the push she needed in certain situations).

I loved Seb & Analee’s relationship SO MUCH!! I don’t usually read many books with fake dating, but this one takes the top spot!! It starts off with them creating a fake backstory, Analee going to his soccer games, Seb bringing her lattes in the morning (which was the cutest (´▽`ʃƪ)💕). Then its days at the beach, going to the movies, even Seb making Analee take part in library reading for Harry Potter!

Soon, their fake relationship turns into something more! I just adored the development of their relationship and how each of them grow with each other’s help!! Their banter, how they talked to each other about their families, & how Analee always talked about his “annoyingly” brightly colored shoes we’re the best 💕

And I don’t want to spoil it, but the friendship & especially development between Analee & online friend, Harris definitely took me by surprise, but I loved it so much!

Analee has lost her former best friend and her father. With Lily, we get backstory to their friendship and slowly figure out what caused it to end. I related to Analee with her friendship so much, because I’ve certainly had my fair share of friendships where the person moved on. Throughout the book, I was just rooting Analee on & could understand how difficult it feels to re-connect with a former friend who doesn’t seem to want to be a part of your life! It was heart-breaking to see how Analee (well after) noticed the little things from her comments about being popular, getting a boyfriend, etc. that Lily took the wrong way, when Analee figures out about Lily & bad-boy Colton, & how Analee’s mother’s death was a lot for Lily to handle (considering how close they were too).

As with her father, Analee has sensed his distance since her mother died and although he’s still there, she felt with Harlow & Avery coming in to their lives, that he remained distant (in a different way).

She also struggles with grief/loss as she finds herself constantly reminded of her mother with Harlow in the picture, the upcoming wedding, and the overall delivery of the dynamic between her & her mother weaved throughout.

Not only that, but Analee has gotten so used to feeling alone that she has this outer shell around her & knowing how she’s been left in the past, her anger, fear, etc. can come out in ways she doesn’t mean. I could relate to that at times, but seeing her take up meditation and talk more with her family & Seb was so beautiful to read about! (I cried 😭💕💕)

Additionally this novel also focuses on growth as Analee learns more about Harlow, she gets out of her comfort-zone with Seb, thinks more about friendship as a whole, Lily & becomes comfortable with letting go of the past and moving forward!

Janelle Milanes is a queen at 1st person POVs!! Through Analee we learn so much about her, the people around her, her hobbies, she & the entire cast, become so incredibly real, that everything about Analee, In Real Life just– comes to life!!

There’s also so much focus on family and parents as they play such a central role in this story! Especially when it comes to the discussion of relationships, sex/sex-positivity! Family is very present as is Analee’s dad & Harlow, which so amazing to see in YA Contemporary!

*Also I loved that although we know about Analee’s past + current dynamic with Lily and what she knows about Chloe, there is absolutely NO girl vs. girl hate! Analee wants to be so much like them because they are many things she knows she isn’t, but it was great to see when they did interact, it wasn’t out of hate, jealousy, etc. mostly it was out of misunderstanding (especially with Lily).

I loved all the amazing characters from Analee, her dad, Harlow + Avery, Seb, Chloe, Lily, Harris, etc. Alongside that, Milanes always makes her casts so diverse & inclusive, which is amazing:

We have Analee, her dad & mom who are Cuban (w/ Analee being Cuban-American), Seb who is 1/2 Dominican & Puerto Rican), and Lily (Indian-American).

And similar to Victoria, I loved seeing Spanish throughout the book & mention of platinos, & overall the diverse Latinx rep throughout the book<3 ❤

Analee, In Real Life also just ends in a way that took me by surprise (broke my heart a little), but I loved it so much!! It felt so realistic and I didn’t exactly feel sad, but hopeful for Analee and her future with her family, school, relationships, etc.! The plot just had me so immersed from start to finish, I was so sad when I reached the last page!

Overall, I highly recommend checking out Analee, In Real Life it made me feel so many different emotions, & captured my heart!! ❤

Analee, In Real Life is a spectacular YA Contemporary! With a comedic and delightful narrator like Analee, this relatable coming-of-age story explores family, love, friendship, loss, acceptance & so much more! From Online RPGs, to a diverse cast, unique and memorable plot that goes in ways you don’t expect, Milanes’s latest YA Contemporary is a book I highly recommend!

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Latinx Book Bingo TBR {Book Blog Discussion}

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ ✨💕📚 In today’s post I’ll be sharing my TBR list for Latinx Book Bingo!

If you’ve never heard of Latinx Book Bingo, it takes place from September 15-October 15, in which you read books based off the categories on the Latinx Bingo card! It basically highlights and celebrates books from Latinx authors or that feat. Latinx characters by reading as many as you can! ❤

Latinx Book Bingo was created by booktubers: Allie from Alliembooks, Paola from PaolaMancera & book blogger Sofia from SofiaInBookLand

To start, I’m going to share 1 row of Latinx books I’m planning on reading (or currently reading) for this read-a-thon!

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova1.SF/F: Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova (Brooklyn Brujas #2)

I remember reading Labyrinth Lost back in 2016 & fell in love with it! From the Latinx rep., themes of family, sisterhood, etc. they were all elements I related to so much! So, for the SF/F category I’m definitely planning to finally start book 2, Bruja Born which released back in June of this year! Really looking forward to returning to another adventure w/ MC Alex in the Brooklyn Brujas series!

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes2.Contemporary Romance: Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

If your new to my blog, then you probably missed when I was fangirling over Janelle Milanes’s debut, The Victoria In My Head! Its such a fantastic YA Contemporary and from Milanes’s writing voice, her characters, theme of family, & wonderfully written romances, she easily became one of my all-time favorite authors!

Analee, In Real Life is an incredible YA Contemporary! Milanes’s books in general always leave me feeling so happy & remind me why I love YA Contemporary so much! I’m adoring it & you can also expect my full ARC review of it tomorrow on release day!

If you need more convincing to check out this book here’s what you can expect:
       ⁎Fake dating!
       ⁎ Online RPGs
       ⁎ Complex exploration of family/family dynamics
       ⁎ Diverse + incredible cast of characters

Blanca &amp; Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore3.Magical Realism: Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Anna-Marie McLemore is another one of my all-time favorite authors!! Her magical realism novels are just so beautifully written and contain such impactful stories that capture my heart each time! I’m really looking forward to reading my ARC of her upcoming release: Blanca y Roja!

Blanca & Roja is a queer Swan Lake retelling that I am so excited to read! I look forward to another one of McLemore’s lyrical and captivating stories!

The Carrying by Ada Limón4.Poetry: The Carrying by Ada Limón

After looking through Latinx Book Bingo rec. lists, I realized I recognized one of the poets, Ada Limón! I just checked out The Carrying from my library & from what I read of the summary it looks like the poems will explore youth, acceptance, love, & so much more! I’m really looking forward to reading Limón’s collection and I haven’t read too many poetry collections from Latinx authors, so I’m very happy to not only get introduced to a new book, but author too!

Are you participating in Latinx Book Bingo? + What Latinx books are on your TBR? 😍✨📚

Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente Review

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence Volume 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Pages: 112

Summary: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Fence Vol. 1 is a fast-paced, character-driven series that follows aspiring fencer Nicholas who wants to prove he has what it takes to make it as a champion! From the fencing, competitions, high stakes, complex character dynamics, and so much more, this is gearing up to be quite a series!

So if you’ve been following my blog, you may have already seen my review of Fence, issues 1-3 in January!

Because the single issues (for me) were getting a bit pricey, I decided to put the series on hold and wait for the first volume collection!

So with this essentially being a bit of re-read, (except for Issue 4), overall I loved Fence as much as I did the first time! There’s such an interesting (but rather slow) dynamic between Nicholas Cox, 16-year old who’s new to the world of competitive fencing and Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy, who’s on his way to the championships and possibly getting a scholarship from Exton (the best fencing school in the country).

Nicholas hints that his father, Robert Coste, was a fencing champion in the 80’s but now has is with his what Nicholas calls “legitimate” son, Jesse Coste, who currently fences for Exton!

We follow Nicholas as he makes his way to his first match in a Connecticut circuit, but ultimately loses against Seiji! However, after a 15-0 loss, Nicholas vows to challenge him again, one day!

Six months later, Nicholas makes his way to the all-boys boarding school on a fencing scholarship, King’s Row and learns his roommate is none other than Seiji!

After issue 2, Fence introduces life at King’s Row, the fencing team, and the beginnings of Nicholas and his journey to prove himself as a fencer worthy of his spot at King’s Row!

Aside from Nicholas & Seiji, the other characters I love are Bobby (who becomes one of Nicholas’s good friends) & Dante, Bobby’s best friend! (They are my faves <3)

Fence is a pretty plot-driven series for the most part, fast-paced, & the story is incredibly immersive!

I also love how diverse Fence is! From characters of different ethnic backgrounds, such as black characters (coach Williams & Harvard–Fencing capitan), Seiji (Japanese), Kings Row fencers Eugene (Filipino) & Bobby (trans), and there’s also gay rep. hinted at, but more clearly shown in volume 3!

I also love how this series has characters from different economic backgrounds and (though a bit vague), shows differing family dynamics!

Now I did rate it (& issues 1-3) 4.5 on goodreads, but after this re-read I think for this review I’ll leave it at 4 stars (But, I’ll see how I feel after future volumes)... My critiques are: I’m not the biggest fan of one of the King’s Row fencers, Aiden (he reminds me a lot of a female character in Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun named Kashima, but I like Kashima better TBH <3!), the art-style could have been a little more detailed (in the backgrounds especially), and the side characters for the most part felt static.

Another thing I noticed from a re-read is that because some characters are static and the story is gearing in a direction that I’m looking forward to, it just feels a little too planned out! With the quick pace, it feels as if Fence is more setting up for whats going to come and not really lay the foundation for the story its giving us (if that makes sense)?

However, I will say what is really keeping me invested in this series, is where the story is headed exactly for Nicholas & Seiji!

But overall, Fence is such a delightful, character-driven series that is just fun all around! I definitely recommend checking it out!

Fence Vol. 1 will leave you wanting more! Its a character-driven series that is fast-paced, inclusive, while having a cast and story that easily immerses you! From fencing, boarding schools, rivalry, championships, friendships, & so much more, Fence is a must read series!

Book Bytes #15

Book Bytes Banner 2018~ 24hryabookblogBook 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!

Book Bytes #15 is wrapping up all the YA Book news from August!

Adaptation News

1.Fake ID Optioned by Sony Pictures Television

According to Lamar Giles’s twitter, he hinted at his novel getting optioned as of August 7. He tweeted a picture of his 2014 YA Debut novel, Fake ID with a letter signed off by Sony Pictures TV Inc.

No other news has been announced!

2. Between Shades Of Gray Red Carpet Premiere

As of August 17, Ruta Sepetys shared on her twitter the date for the red carpet premiere of the adaptation of Between Shades Of Gray, with the movie being titled: Ashes In The Snow!

The premiere is set to be in Los Angeles on September 21 and according to her twitter, the theatrical release is set to be in 2019!

Book Deals

1. Ten Thousand Rivers by June Hur

Set to be released in 2020 with Feiwel & Friends, Hur’s YA Historical Fiction is “Set in Korea in the 1800s, where a sixteen-year-old indentured to the police bureau takes a murder investigation into her own hands, delving deep into a restless city swirling with intrigue and secrets, where honor often comes before justice ” (Announced August 23).

Cover Reveals

1.Field Notes On Love by Jennifer E. Smith

As of August 7, Smith revealed on her twitter, the cover for her upcoming YA Contemporary, Field Notes On Love!

Field Notes On Love by Jennifer E. Smith is set to be released March 5, 2019!

2.Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

The cover for Zdrok’s debut historical fantasy novel, Spectacle, had its cover revealed via Hypable on August 8!

Spectacle is a historical fantasy set in a re-imagined Paris in 1887! According to Hypable this novel follows Nathalie Baudin who’s “job is macabre, to say the least. She writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal, so each day she must line up to get a look at the newest arrivals. And she wasn’t the only one. Up to 40,000 Parisians would do so regularly.

But one day, Nathalie’s routine takes a dark turn. She has a vision of a woman being murdered — but it’s from the killer’s point of view. Soon, it becomes obvious that they have a serial killer on their hands.

Now Nathalie’s life becomes a struggle between figuring out who the killer is and not becoming a victim herself.”

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok is set to be released February 12, 2019!

3.Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

EW revealed the cover to Charaipotra’s upcoming YA Contemporary, Symptoms Of A Heartbreak! Her novel is “a tender YA romance set in the thick of the medical world. The book centers on 16-year-old Saira Sehga, the youngest MD in America working on the cancer ward, and traces her attempts to navigate adult challenges: getting out from under the thumb of her doting mother (who works at the same hospital), proving herself to co-workers who don’t take her seriously, and crushing on a cute boy who happens to have stage II leukemia.”

Alongside the cover reveal, was also a Q&A with Charaipotra about the story, inspiration, etc.!

Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra is set to be released May 21, 2019!

4. Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez

The sequel to Pérez’s debut Sweet Black Waves titled, Wild Savage Stars had its cover reveal + Excerpt via Bustle on August 22!

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez is set to be released August 27, 2019!

5. Descendant Of The Crane Joan He

As of August 27, Hypable revealed the cover to Joan He’s 2019 debut Descendant Of The Crane!

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan HeHe’s novel centers around Princess Hesina of Yan, who “has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant and alluring investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?”

Alongside the cover reveal was an interview w/ Hypable discussing the cover and its importance to the story!

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He is set to be released April 2, 2019!

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1. Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan B&N Exclusive Edition

Announced August 4 through Natasha Ngan’s twitter, her debut novel Girls Of Paper And Fire, will be getting an exclusive Barnes & Noble edition with special content!

According to Barnes & Noble’s website it is: “specially bound with an exclusive red hardcover with a foil stamp design, as well as handwritten, behind-the-scenes notes from the author on her favorite scene from the book!

Tours

1.Broken Things by Lauren Oliver 

Announced through Hypable on August 9, was Lauren Oliver’s upcoming tour for her upcoming novel, Broken Things.

Broken Things is set to be released October 2, 2018!

2. A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Announced August 28 through Hypable, Tahereh Mafi will be going on tour for her upcoming novel, A Very Large Expanse Of Sea!

A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is set to be released October 16, 2018!

And That’s The YA Book News For August! 😄✨📚

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

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 {Manga Review}

Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Volume 3Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 by Izumi Tsubaki

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: May 24, 2016

Pages: 144

Summary: Drawing comics is hard work, as high school boy and shoujo manga-ka Umetarou Nozaki and his motley crew of friends-turned-assistants know well. But being a manga pro doesn’t necessarily make Nozaki great at everything. In fact, Chiyo is about to discover that his talent just might be full of holes?!

As it turns out, everyone’s got some weaknesses, and nobody’s perfect-not even school “prince” Kashima! And Chiyo doesn’t get a pass either…because her greatest weakness is Nozaki himself!

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a fantastic manga series that gives unique + comedic spins to tropes (or more specifically, romance tropes)! The delightful cast of characters build on the comedic moments & hilarious misunderstandings throughout each episodic scenario!

Monthly Girls’ is one of the manga series (with the 1st being I Hear The Sunspot) that got me into reading manga again back in 2016!

I’d been planning to make a review for each volume, but with the format of each one, couldn’t decide exactly what to say! Now, that I’ve read 3 of them, I’m ready to share my thoughts on this amazing series!

*While reading this series, I also watched it alongside the anime (which is amazing) so I highly recommend checking it out too when reading it! ^_^

So to catch you up to speed, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a series that centers around Chiyo Sakura who has a crush on Umetarou Nozaki. She’s never told him how she’s felt, but through unexpected (& hilarious) scenarios, she learns he is a manga artist & basically ends up working alongside him after school as his assistant.

She meets new friends along the way and basically Chiyo, Nozaki, & the cast get involved in hilarious situations & often times ones filled with misunderstandings!

There’s not only Chiyo and Nozaki, but also Seo, Chiyo’s best friend who’s very outgoing & strong-willed, Mikoshiba, who’s the popular/good-looking guy who is actually extremely shy + gets embarrassed easily, & many more wonderful characters!! ❤

Monthly Girls’ overall continues to be one of the funniest & most underrated manga series I’ve ever read! I love all the characters (Though if I had to pick, Mikoshiba is probably one of my favorite characters of the entire series (´▽`ʃƪ)), the way the author puts brilliant twists on romance tropes, the use of humor and tropes in ways I don’t expect, the expansion on characters in subtle, but differing ways & all the wacky scenarios the characters get into!

In this volume, the side-characters have a more prominent role throughout the various skits:
-Mikoshiba goes to Nozaki for help on figuring out how group dates work (one of my favorite moments in this volume!)
-Ken Miyame (Nozaki’s editor) goes to a high school reunion. There’s also a running joke throughout this series that while Chiyo spends time w/ Nozaki, he learns more about Ken (which is funny b/c Chiyo has a crush on Nozaki, but Nozaki doesn’t really notice & cares more about impressing his editor than anyone else).
-Wakamatsu & Seo go out to the movies (another one of my favorite moments! <3)
-Nozaki & Mikoshiba try to act like bad-boys to get into the mindset for character creation in another chapter of Nozaki’s manga (the funniest moment of the whole volume.)
-And more hilarious moments between the “Prince” of the school, Yuu Kashima, and her drama club director, Masayuki!~

I loved that there was more development to the amazing characters aside from Nozaki & Chiyo! What also makes this manga so great is the subtle jokes you don’t see coming until the end of the page!

Mikoshiba just continues to try & be more confident & outgoing, but just can’ quite get there! He is the shy heart-throb I continue to love & adore!! I love seeing how he’s growing little by little with each volume (´▽`ʃƪ)<3 ❤ ❤

I also loved getting more subtle growth to Kashima & Masayuki’s relationship/interesting dynamic (its really a relationship based on them butting heads with each-other, but it works so perfectly!) Their development is what I look forward to with each volume!

Another relationship I can’t wait to see more of is with Seo & Wakamatsu! Theirs is one that’s just filled with hilarious misunderstandings and they easily became one of my new favorite duos!

Overall what makes Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun such a hilarious + entertaining series is that its just filled with tropes turned upside down and brilliantly timed jokes!

The bonds built between this dynamic group of friends, causes them to get into the wackiest situations, but at the end of the day, are always there for each other!

My only critique is that because Vol. 3 is more focused on the character dynamics between each scenario and not so much on the weaving of the plot, the pacing seemed a little slower to me. Because its also more character-driven, it does feel a bit different than previous volumes.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun Vol. 3 continues to build its unique cast of characters and really focuses on the bonds between each of them as they get into hilarious situations! Though the plot is more episodic compared to previous volumes, this manga continues to brilliantly twist tropes in the most unexpected ways, deliver perfect comedic timing, & is filled with hilarious adventures that continue to bring its characters to life!

Waiting On Wednesday #10

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly blog feature to showcase/spotlight anticipated book releases!

It was created by Jill at BreakingTheSpines 

This week I’m spotlighting…

Heartstruck (Flicker #1) by Angeli E. DumatolHeartstruck by Angeli E. Dumatol (Flicker #1)

Publisher: Smashwords

Release Date: September 15, 2018

Pages: 124

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Alexa Zamora looks as if she’s always been the beautiful and graceful center of attention. If you knew her in grade school though, you’d remember a sad little girl, who had lost her parents, and spent most of her time on the martial art arnis—a rough sport, not something girls were supposed to like. If you knew her then, you might have ostracized her for it.

She learned from this mistake, and has done her best to hide all traces of her sport and skill in a new school, and now she’s New Hope Academy’s It Girl. But transfer student Theo Guevarra, who happens to be her old arnis buddy and first love, arrives and makes her question the life she’s been living. How long can she keep up appearances, before it all falls apart?

Heartstruck was a book that was recently added to my TBR!

I originally heard about it through Sil at TheBookVoyagers! (´▽`ʃƪ) ❤

I always go to Sil’s twitter for new & upcoming recommendations for indie & romance authors! She had recently tweeted about this book and the cover/summary immediately caught my attention!

The main character Alexa is the academy It Girl and in her past, spent her time doing martial arts arnis. Now at her new school, she’s left that passion behind her, but when a boy from her past, Theo Guevarra happens to be a new transfer student at her school, things begin to change!

The summary itself sounds so different from any other YA Contemporary I’ve read and I’m really looking forward to reading more about Alexa & Theo!

I also don’t usually read many sports-related contemporary, but this one sounds amazing and I was immediately hooked from the summary !!

Everything about Heartstruck has me really looking forward to reading it! + I’m always looking to support diverse/ #OwnVoices books (& this book has Filipino rep.!)

Can’t wait to read Heartstruck!! It releases Sept. 15, 2018!

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram ARC Review

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib KhorramDarius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Publisher: Dial Books (PenguinTeen)

Release Date: August 28, 2018

Pages: 320

Summary: Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

*Received ARC through Bookish First*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Darius The Great Is Not Okay is a deeply moving and character-driven YA Contemporary! Darius finds himself unsure of where he fits in, but a family trip to Iran allows him to connect more to his heritage, family, and make a new friend and allow him to figure out a space where he fits in! Khorram’s moving debut discusses family, friendship, mental health, & so much more!

You know when you read a book (especially YA Contemporary) and feel you can understand and sense the characters come to life  throughout the story? That was definitely what Darius The Great Is Not Okay was for me!

Darius Kellner hasn’t exactly found the perfect place to fit in at school or home. So when his parents announce he and his little sister Laleh will be visiting their mother’s parents in Iran during his spring break, he isn’t sure what to expect.

As it turns out they are visiting because Darius & Laleh’s grandfather is ill (he has a tumor), and with their mother not having visited in years, it becomes a rather sudden trip.

Having only seen his grandparents through video calls, Darius isn’t entirely sure he can fit in during his trip to Iran, even though he knows he’ll be surrounded by family.

As his parents and Laleh seem to be fitting in, Darius is trying his best to carve the space for himself.

Throughout his trip he not only connects with the family he’s never fully known, but learns more about his 1/2 Iranian heritage and even meets a local friend of the family, Sohrab.

While he struggles to find his place, Sohrab becomes Darius’s best friend and through their friendship, he begins to feel a sense of belonging (though it does take time).

There’s so much I can’t really put into words about this book! What resonated a lot with me the most, was the trip itself Darius & his family took to visit their other relatives.

Having been fortunate enough to visit the country where my parents grew up quite a few times, I really resonated with Khorram’s message about the importance of knowing your cultural heritage and overall how a trip like that just means so much.

Not only do I see beloved relatives I sadly don’t see too often, but it allows me to take a step back from the hectic day-to-day life back home and just explore, learn more about my cultural background each time I visit, & also relax + spend it with family.

Khorram’s debut focuses so much on the relationships we have with our friends, family, and how each dynamic can mean something different for a person. For example, Darius struggles so much with wanting to have support & in general, feel approved by his father.

Because of that, we see how the dynamic between Darius and his father is rather complicated (even when it comes to their Star Trek marathons) and how it has impacted Darius in many ways (from his confidence, to the love/acceptance he wants from his family).

Their dynamic alongside Darius & Sohrab’s is given so much page time and we see how these different relationships allow Darius to grow and question his place with his family, identity, etc. But also get a better understanding of who he is & wants to be.

Sohrab makes Darius feel more at home as they both understand that their friendship doesn’t always require talking. Sohrab asks Darius to join him in his games of soccer with other local teens, gifts him a soccer jersey, lets him borrow his cleats, and is just there to hang out with him. Though Darius is unsure of their friendship at first, I loved seeing how it allowed him to find a sense of belonging with Sohrab and open up in a different way.

I loved their friendship so much! There’s so much unsaid between them, but it is done in a way where Darius (as does the reader) knows that Sohrab really understands and accepts Darius for who he is, and respects how much Darius remains true to himself.

Because Darius works at a tea shop, Tea Haven, and mentions that tea is a big part of his Persian culture, I loved seeing how he used his knowledge + tea making skills, to connect with his grandmother & grandfather as the story progressed.

There’s also a discussion on mental health as we explore depression that both Darius and his father have. It was such an in-depth/explored element of the story and you see how depression has also impacted Darius and his view of the world.

The first person POV writing really allows us to understand Darius, his world, and the depth to him as a character! The themes, connections between family and friends, exploration of Iranian culture, all are explored in such a unique way by following Darius’s POV!

As for the inclusive representation, there is Iranian + Persian rep. seen through Darius’s family in Iran, his mother, and Javaneh Esfahani, a classmate that Darius sits with at lunch (Persian-American). There is also biracial representation (1/2 Persian & white) as seen with Darius & his sister Laleh. Though its not explicitly stated, we see there may be gay rep., as seen through Darius (alongside depression & fat rep). 

Another part of Darius The Great Is Not Okay that also resonated with me was the bond we see that has shifted between Darius’s mother & her father ( it reminded me so much of my grandfather). Darius’s Babou, has a tumor and because of that throughout the novel Darius sees how different he is (compared to the stories Darius has heard from his mother & the grandfather he’d spoken with through video chats).

Additionally, we have moments throughout where we see Darius’s grandfather’s illness impact his mother so incredibly much. I resonated with those moments a lot and my heart broke for Darius’s mother (knowing how close they were & seeing how his illness was changing him).

I did take off a star because at times within the dialogue (at least in the ARC) I found lines and pauses a bit overused (for ex. I did find Darius said “um” many times throughout the book. Even throughout the same page). Because of that, I found the repetitiveness of that word really took away from what it symbolized (in my opinion), because we are already aware that Darius has difficulty making his way into conversation or connecting with others in an unfamiliar social setting, etc.

So, the overuse of that word didn’t really make the writing flow as evenly as it could have.

Additionally, this isn’t really a bad thing, but because this novel is very character-driven, some elements of the plot and setting do feel a bit underdeveloped.

Overall though, this is such a powerfully character-driven novel and you really see Darius change and slowly start to find his place in the world.

Character-development, themes of family, friendship, and especially, acceptance of ones-self are such important elements to the story that truly make it such an impactful read! The depth to this novel from its characters, the writing, and development to the story, make Darius The Great Is Not Okay, a must read YA Contemporary & debut!