The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah Review

The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London ShahThe Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah (Light The Abyss #1)

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Pages: 320

Available Through The Book Depository: The Light At The Bottom Of The World

Summary: At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Light At The Bottom Of The World is YA Sci-Fi debut that will leave you with a sense of wonder and is a delightful immersive adventure! Set in a future underwater, Leyla is a quest to reunite with her father! Layered politics, unique world building, and mystery are just some of the many things to expect from Shah’s wonderful debut!

I’d been looking forward to this book for over a year because the concept sounded fascinating, so of course that meant I had to add it to the TBR! Underwater society, the turn of the century, sub races, and government conspiracies? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

16-year old Leyla McQueen is a dedicated sub racer and she’s on a mission! Set in Great Britain in the year 2099 nearing the end of the century, people for the most part have adjusted to life underwater. However, up above on the surface the water levels continue to rise, there’s devastating storms, and back underwater there’s a sickness that’s spreading.

Leyla’s father is accused of spreading the illness known as Seasickness, but she knows he’s innocent! So, when Leyla’s chosen to compete in the London Marathon, she hopes her wish can accomplish one thing: Bringing her father home!

When her wish doesn’t go exactly as planned, she decides to seek out answers herself, but luckily she’s not alone! With her friends Theo & Tabby, her grandfather, and a mysterious new companion, Leyla is on a race against time traveling the dangerous waters in her submersible to find her father!

Shah’s writing is atmospheric and thought-provoking. Not only does she beautifully lay out this futuristic setting of an underwater society, but she weaves in the unique technology, habitat/environmental layers, and complex politics that come with it.

Told through a first-person POV you really get inside Leyla’s head and learn more about her past and what I really appreciated, was how much you learn about the world through her eyes! The world itself is layered subtly where your getting this clear picture of the underwater world and the politics, setting, and character development building with each chapter!

Leyla is a wonderful main character and I loved following her journey! She’s dedicated to racing, worries about her father, and is experiencing the world outside London for the first time. She’s hopeful, unwavering, and just has a wonderful spirit!

“Hope is all I have right now; it’s as unending as the oceans―and I must hold on to it…” (23).

In terms of representation this novel centers around our main protagonist and her family who’re Pashtun/Afghan Muslim! (Also, this book is #OwnVoices for British Muslim rep!)

Throughout the novel, Leyla grows in ways that test her knowledge of the world she thought she knew. Following her perspective, you get a layered look at the politics, setting, and government established in underwater Great Britain.

The story moves at such a great pace where at the end of each chapter, your left with so many questions and trying to piece the mystery together!

Leyla’s joined by her dog Jojo, an internal sub navigator who’s presented as Oscar Wilde, and Ari, a family friend who’s been tasked with looking after Leyla by her grandfather! What stands out as the story progresses are the really distinct changes to their dynamic as it shifts & grows in subtle ways. I loved how Shah explored their enemies to friends (maybe lovers?) dynamic and had so many surprises for them along the way!

I don’t want to get into it too much, because you really have to read it for yourself, but Leyla & Ari’s dynamic was developed in a really great way! They start out not really liking each other, but throughout their adventure together, what the dynamic is rooted in is trust! Trust within themselves and with each other! Its a wonderful message that layered itself into the story and adds so much to their friendship/dynamic!

The plot twists in this book were just SO good and made me really think about the world itself and what our characters have been tricked into believing!

A good adventure isn’t without a few bumps along the road for our duo! There’s the mysterious government security known as Blackwatch, a mysterious captain named Sebastian, and monsters (Arthropoids) that lurk within the waters!

I really loved how Shah beautifully explored and delved into the element of nostalgia, whether its for characters that Leyla notices are obsessed with the Old World, groups known as the Old World Heritage Society, even people’s fascination with collecting Old World objects. In this speculative fiction future, it created this sense longing and promise for what’s ahead! That was a beautiful message I picked up on while reading and really appreciated it.

There’s also a message woven in about family! Leyla herself never admits it too often, but she is lonely. She misses the time when she could spend the holidays at home with her parents and with her mission to find her father, she hopes she can regain that loss along the way. Friendship itself is also anchors itself as an important familial unit for Leyla and it’ll be great to see how those important themes are explored in the sequel!

The setting itself is layered with beautiful imagery and alongside Shah’s great writing, your given a sense of wanderlust that makes the world dazzle and make you wish you could go on your own underwater adventure too!

Now onto my critique: Its really just boils down to the writing! Though I really love (and will absolutely defend) the beauty of first person POVs, I felt at least for this first novel (for me personally) there were something about its presentation that made it difficult to fully connect with the plot at some points (mainly during Leyla’s journey as she traveled the oceans, looking for her father). As I read, I noticed there was a big focus to the emotion and emotional layers of the story through Leyla’s perspective.

With the way it was presented, the perspective made certain plot points feel glossed over. Because we’re in Leyla’s head, we really get an in-depth look at her as a character, which is great, BUT I did find at points there was a bit too much internal description of her thoughts/emotions. From my perspective, it took away from some of the exposition and execution of plot points. However, I really loved Shah’s writing style, its so beautiful and I definitely found myself writing down a lot of wonderful quotes!

After that ending I can’t wait to see what happens next in the sequel! I’m really looking forward to seeing whats next for Leyla’s journey!

The Light At The Bottom Of The World is a thought-provoking YA Sci-Fi that features a sub racer on a mission to save her father! With beautiful writing, a great cast of characters, plot twists, mystery, and a wonderfully immersive setting, you don’t want to miss London Shah’s debut!

Hey everyone, just wanted to share that yesterday I posted my author interview with Isabel Ibañez whose releasing her 2020 debut, Woven In Moonlight, in just a couple months! It would mean the world if you gave it a read, we talk about her inspiration, main character, and tons of different elements of her book she’s looking forward to sharing with readers! There’s also an awesome pre-order campaign I share in the post too! Hope you can check it out! 🌙✨💞

Author Interview With Isabel Ibañez {Woven In Moonlight}

Hey everyone! Its been over a few months since I attended Yallwest 2019 and I’m thrilled to finally share, that I had the opportunity to interview 2020 YA Fantasy debut author: Isabel Ibañez!! 🎉✨

Her debut Woven In Moonlight is set to be released January 7, 2020 and we chatted all about the inspiration behind her story, its different layers, characters and other parts of her story that she’s looking forward to sharing with readers! (Thanks again Isabel 💕)

This interview was done during Fierce Reads Friday at Yallwest on May 3, 2019!

Here’s Isabel to talk a little more about Woven In Moonlight:

“My debut is a Bolivian political-fantasy and it’s about a decoy Condesa who infiltrates this corrupt monarchy and she sends coded messages back to the rebels through her weaving. So, she uses celestial magic and undergoes an experience unlike any she’s ever been taught or known!”

When talking about the inspiration behind her debut, she mentioned that she never really saw herself represented in any of the books she read―“I mean, [reading about] a South-American character would have been fabulous, but I never did…” 

“I really wanted to write someone that looks like me, understood my culture, the importance of family and so, I wanted someone to share that perspective and worldview that I had while growing up…”

Secondly, she discussed how the political climate in Bolivia is complicated and dangerous, so the antagonist is heavily inspired by the current president/dictator. She “wanted to write and tell this story because it’s not really talked about…”

Next, we discussed the elements of Bolivian culture within her novel and I asked Ibañez if there were any, that while writing, she thought “yes, this has to be in the story!”

“I love food and I love the experiences that are centered around sharing a meal. Bolivia has such wonderful, wonderful dishes and recipes, so all of those foods that I enjoyed eating with my family ended up in Woven In Moonlight!”

Alongside that, Woven In Moonlight is also heavily inspired by the “food, clothing, and the Bolivian history as well. Your going to find snippets of that in the story woven throughout (pun intended 😂✨).”

Ibañez and I then discussed what it meant for her to create this fantasy world inspired by a country that hasn’t really been represented in YA Fantasy before:

“It’s amazing to me that there could be a story that can touch people in this country because growing up Bolivian in the US, I ran into a variety of people from Spanish-speaking countries, but I didn’t often run into a Bolivian. So when I started getting sweet emails from readers who had some sort of relationship with Bolivia (either from there, lived there, or had a relative whose from there), it was astounding that there were people here who had that kind of connection to Bolivia and hopefully, this book reaches them!

I hope they can find and see themselves in this story and that really matters to me.”

Woven In Moonlight is a standalone fantasy novel and it does have a “satisfying ending”  but Ibañez shared that she does leave many threads open! With that said, it was announced on June 21 that Ibañez will be returning to the fantasy kingdom she created  within Woven In Moonlight in 2021 with a spin-off!

If your anticipating Woven In Moonlight, she also discussed some elements of the story that she’s looking forward to see readers explore throughout her story:

“I love YA and I’ve read so many books that center around a revolution, and this idea of fighting for a type of republic/democracy that benefits everyone. We’ve seen those books, I’ve bought those books, read them and loved them. So, I’m looking forward to see readers excited about a revolution story that’s happening in real time, in Bolivia.

If you read the book very closely and do a bit of research with the current Bolivian politics, you might see some parallels.”

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel IbañezNext we talked about her cover! If you didn’t know, it was announced back in March that Isabel would be designing her own book cover and as of June 6, the cover for Woven In Moonlight has been revealed via Hypable!

“My editor reached out to me asking if I knew of any Bolivian artists I could contract for the cover and I happened to be an artist/illustrator + greeting card designer by day! So I sent her my portfolio and I’m excited that they went ahead and trusted me with so much of the book. There was so much support, encouragement, and the fact that they even asked (wanting a Bolivian artist to do the cover) just meant so much to me!

They were doing everything they could to step-up in regards to representation, support, and encouragement for this book!”

Next we talked about the main character of Woven In Moonlight, Ximena, who has the unique ability to spin thread from moonlight. In doing so, she’s able to use this power to help the resistance. Ibañez delved a little more into her inspirations for Ximena’s rare ability.

“In Bolivia, the tradition of weaving tapestries, blankets, pouches, bags, that is a long-standing tradition, its beautiful, bright, and colorful! These women who work the loom are absolutely talented and many of us learn how to weave. Its such a Bolivian art form…I’m a weaver and I wanted to give Ximena something that felt very Bolivian, something I knew intimately well, also as an artist I think there is something so beautiful about being able to create something by hand and have this piece of art you’ve created. Using your imagination and a skill set handed down to you–I really wanted Ximena to have that. Also because I love fantasy, I wanted to infuse her ability with something special. In Bolivia, there are a group of people who still respect and worship different deities, that they’ve inherited from their Incan ancestors, so I wanted to honor that as well!”

“When I was thinking of what kind of ability Ximena could have, I was inspired by Pachamama (Incan goddess of the earth). I also thought about not going downward, but up and that’s how I picked that type of magic…”

I then chatted with Ibañez about the elements of Woven In Moonlight she had the most fun developing!

“I loved creating Ximena! She’s named after my mother and she’s someone who is fierce, loyal, incredibly brave, and outspoken. So, I wanted to create this character out of love and respect for my mother, but also because I’ve always been fascinated by her courage! Ximena came really easily to me because I felt I really knew her–so that was a lot of fun!”

To conclude our interview, Ibañez shared her final thoughts on why readers should check out Woven In Moonlight:

“If you love food, magic, kissing, adventure, stories about girls who are flawed and whose reactions aren’t perfect, are still growing, confronting and called out for their mistakes, I think you should check out Woven In Moonlight! Plus, did I mention there’s lots of good food?”

Also, as part of Isbael’s Inkasisa Street Team for WIM I wanted to share the wonderful pre-order campaign going on! Here’s some of the awesome swag that’ll be included:

Woven In Moonlight bookmark, print, sticker, annotated PDF of Chapter 1, and there’ll be special grand prizes! All the info/details can be found on her Instagram post here!
(*To show support for the street team too, if you find yourself pre-ordering please include this code in your email INKASISA07)

Are you looking forward to Woven In Moonlight? 🌙✨

Flying Witch Vol. 2 by Chihiro Ishizuka {Manga Review}

Flying Witch Vol. 2 by Chihiro IshizukaFlying Witch Vol. 2 by Chihiro Ishizuka & Melissa Tanaka (Translator) (Flying Witch Series)

Publisher: Vertical Comics

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Pages: 160

Available Through The Book Depository: Flying Witch Volume 2

Summary: Makoto goes to a local cherry blossom festival and happens to encounter someone who has a bone to pick with her sister, Akane. When Akane happens to drop by, she teaches Makoto some new tricks for flying and some easy spellcraft. Their kid cousin Chinatsu is so charmed by the witches’ talents that she makes an unexpected request…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Flying Witch is a slice of life/urban fantasy manga series! We follow Makoto who moves to Aomori to live with her cousins and aunt, as she continues her training to become a witch!

Its been 2 years since I read the first volume where we get introduced to Makoto, her family, and the delightful quiet magic of Flying Witch! I really missed this world and it was great to get back to this series again! Overall, this is a really sweet, quiet and engaging manga series that’s just a lot of fun!

If I could summarize this series it essentially follows Makoto (a witch in training) as she hangs out with her cousins Kei & Chinatsu, and new friend Nao all while their adventures are filled with the mundane and magical happenings of their daily lives!

Volume 2 is a lot more episodic than the first one. Where in Flying Witch Vol. 1, we were introduced to the magic system and little moments of being a witch through Makoto’s eyes.

There’s the tiniest of details woven into the dialogue that help build on the unique witchy/magical world that comes to life in this rural part of Aomori, Japan. From what it takes to fly, witches dreams, and peculiar spells.

Throughout this volume, Makoto cooks with her cousin Kei, we learn more about a friend of Akane’s (Makoto’s sister) who has a problem that needs solving, there’s walks through the forest, and Akane helps Makoto + her younger cousin Chinatsu learn more about spells, tricks, and witchcraft!

What I appreciate about this series is that there’s a nice focus on the bonds between the characters and details about the city that make it a quiet, unique place to live!

Though this series is a whole lot of fun, I did want to talk about some elements that dropped my rating to 4 stars:

One of my expectations was that the plot would be connected to an overarching conflict, but it very much sticks to the slice of life atmosphere, which includes the backdrop of an upcoming festival!

What I appreciated about Volume 1, was that although it had that distinct slice of life feel to it, we still learned a lot about the world and characters interwoven with unique plot points. However, Flying Witch Volume 2, definitely feels slow and less focused on that direct conflict.

I personally felt it would have been great to see this series establish more concrete plot points to root us into the world before continuing with the everyday/slice of life stuff.

When it comes to art its definitely got a unique style, but for me personally the paneling felt a bit rushed in this volume!

Aside from my issues with this volume, Flying Witch is incredibly easy to get immersed in from the setting to the magical world, characters, story etc. So if your looking for a new manga series and aren’t exactly sure where to start, this is one I definitely recommend!

Overall though, I’m really looking forward to seeing what new adventures the characters get mixed up in next!

Flying Witch is a quiet, slice of life story that follows Makoto, a witch in training! The characters and everyday life make this a fun series for anyone to get into and enjoy! This volume definitely builds on quieter character moments that come to life in the quiet city of Aomori!

Crier’s War by Nina Varela Review

Crier's War by Nina VarelaCrier’s War by Nina Varela (Crier’s War #1)

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Pages: 434

Available Through The Book Depository: Crier’s War

Summary: After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Crier’s War is a deftly woven political fantasy, featuring stellar world building, romance, poetic writing, and a brilliantly crafted plot that will keep you hooked! 

I just finished this book over the weekend and I’m not sure how my review can do this incredible book justice! Ayla & Crier were AMAZING characters, I loved them both so much and my heart burst with joy and sadness throughout their POVs! This book swept me away from the very first page and I’m incredibly excited to see what adventures lay ahead for our protagonists in the sequel, Iron Heart!

Even well before the start of the novel, from the epigraph: “For the queer readers. You deserve every adventure” you can sense the heart and soul Varela poured into this gem of a story! The compact timeline introduced from the very first page lays the groundwork for an epic adventure, the complex dynamic and history between humans and Automae in the lands of Zulla!

Crafted by a specific Maker, the Automae soon began to rebel against their owners and quickly became in charge, turning the tides of society. Now essentially starting from scratch, the Automae rule over humans (who are now servants) and some of the monarchs even take pride in still finding the fascination in human culture they’ve oppressed.

Crier is the current heir, an Autmoae who is brilliant and politically savvy, eager to prove it to her father, the current king, Hessod. However, she’s also set to be married to Scyre Kinok, the cunning war hero who may also have secrets of his own. Yet, when she learns early on that there’s something within her that makes her Flawed, she realizes she is still not fully free herself.

Ayla has one thing on her mind…revenge! For her family that was killed, for the future that was taken away from her, and for those she’s sworn to defend. As part of a rebellion group, she finds she’s given the opportunity to make strides in their uprising for freedom when she becomes handmaiden to Lady Crier, the current heir to the Kingdom of Rabu!

She isn’t entirely alone however, she sticks by one of her best friends Benjy and Rowan a “bird of prey” who is one of the leaders in a group of human rebels who are gearing to take down the Automae and give themselves a fighting chance at a new life.

The story is tightly-plotted with a lot of intrigue, mystery, and continuously builds on story threads that showcase their importance to the world and narrative!

Both Ayla and Crier are placed in positions where the secrets they carry are vital to their futures, requiring them to keep a close eye on each other and the figures around them as well. It’s in the underlying language that we see: both girls are working to stay one step ahead and know that even the smallest slip, could mean their downfall.

The 3rd-person / dual perspective allows for insight not only into the different sides of Zullan society (both human & Automae alike), but it also connects the plot in such a seamless way where your always left surprised by what will happen next.

The other main characters from Benjy to Kinok, rebels, royalty, etc. you feel their weight and impact to the story, even from secondary characters in such a way where the political unrest brings all these different voices to the forefront in some way.

Crier’s War doesn’t shy away from the impact and ferocity of emotion that courses its way through different layers of the story: from its characters to world, the politics, and the inner journey of our main protagonists!

Ayla, her anger and rage bled through each page and you could feel it through her words, actions, and internal thoughts! All she wants is to avenge those she’s lost (mother, father, & twin brother Storme) and create a better life for people. That can only be achieved by getting rid of the Automae, starting with Crier.

I can’t put into words how much I loved following her & Crier’s journeys! They were layered with depth, growth, hurt, and healing, which became such central and emotional themes of the book!

In the world of Crier’s War, though its setting is entirely new and unique, the way Varela develops the different villages, the intricate political relations, and the layers to society feel incredibly real as if they could very well exist in our own world.

What I also loved delving into, when it comes to Automae was their own history and influence in society, their reach goes to practically every sphere of this world! Another intriguing element to the Automae themselves is how their Designed, Made, and the influence the 4 Pillars has on how it makes them who they are (Reason, Calculation, Organic, & Intellect). Again this also ties in with the world building itself, but I loved all the little details that were described really brought the setting to life!

One of my favorite parts of this world (as with any other sci-fi/fantasy) was the politics! I studied this in college and I find it utterly fascinating and I can’t count how many moments I stopped reading to take notes on it.

From Scyre Kinok’s hidden agenda for acquiring power not only within the kingdom, being a former protector of the Iron Heart, to his part within the elite guard to advance Automae, and vying for power in the Red Council (which he continues to do successfully).

Kinok was easily one of my favorite antagonistic characters in this book because, from the very beginning we know he has worked to acquire power for himself, yet we still don’t know to what extent. He was fascinating to learn about because even as we learn more about him and his mysterious motives, the way he presents himself vs. what he keeps hidden are completely different things! This allows us as readers to constantly feel unsettled by him but also fascinated by his cleverness.

Additionally, its through the heriarchy of the characters themselves and their words, Crier with Kinok, Crier with her father Hessod, Ayla with Crier, and so on!

A favorite scene of mine involved Kinok and Crier dancing and to me, I felt this scene reflected the impact their reputations have on the status which they can successfully attain in the kingdom! It was beautifully written and impacted me in ways that had me enthralled by their dynamic!

Varela’s writing is incredibly thought-provoking and she brilliantly captured the political tone and intrigue that’s teeming on the edge of revolution! Her writing just connected with me on such a deep level, it felt philosophical. As we learn about this entirely new world the words are presented in a beautifully composed and scholarly way (Like I’m not entirely sure this makes sense, but the writing kept me thinking and I felt I was learning so much? About politics, the depth of dominating emotion, etc…)

Her writing above all was beautiful, captivating, and elegant!

When it comes to the romance, its slow-burn and again, elegantly written! As you read Crier & Ayla’s beautiful descriptions of one another, your heart feels the depth of emotion where you can truly understand them on a deep, internal level.

My only minor critique is that because SO many people were emphasizing the f/f romance, I was personally expecting more just a bit more exploration to their dynamic throughout the book! But, I can tell Book 2 will delve more into that. Also, more Kinok! He was such a fantastic antagonist and I just wanted more pages from him, as I mentioned above there’s just so many layers to his agenda and I couldn’t help but be intrigued as to how he would make things more complicated for Ayla and Crier!

Crier’s War is a beautifully crafted debut that explores politics, intrigue, tackles philosophical questions on what it means to be human and what does one fight for? Against an expansive backdrop of a world led by alchemical magick and dangerous AI royalty! This is another stellar debut and its a must read for 2019!!

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio Review {Graphic Novel}

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene VisaggioVagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio (Writer), Harry Saxon (Colorist), Tim Daniel (Design), Zakk Saam (Letterer), & Jason Smith (Ink)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: Vagrant Queen Vol. 1

Summary: Former child queen Elida was driven from her throne at age ten and forced to wander the galaxy, evading the revolutionary forces that wanted her dead. When an old frenemy claims to know the whereabouts of Elida’s long-lost mother, she is forced to return to her former kingdom and stage a rescue.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Vagrant Queen is fun, fast-paced, space opera adventure featuring a queen on the run! There’s action, space travel, politics, but where the story really shines is through the main character Elida, who remains on the fringes of space as she is the only royal left after her kingdom’s revolution!

I’d actually heard about this series last year when it was being released as single issues and this is the same publisher that you may already be familiar with on my blog, because they are also publishing Sera And The Royal Stars!

Its been a while since I’ve read a good space story and Vagrant Queen was a book I’d had on my to-read shelf already. I’ve eagerly been trying to get through my physical TBR, so I finally got the chance to pick it up!

Elida Al-Feyr is a former child queen who was forced to leave her kingdom of Arropia after a revolution. Now in her 20’s, she’s living out in the fringes of the galaxy as she is also trying to evade capture from space commander Lazaro, as one of the last remaining royals!

However, when she gets a tip from her former friend Isaac that he knows the whereabouts of her mother, she realizes its the only lead she’s gotten in such a long time.

Now the two of them are charting across space, bantering, and evading capture along the way!

As Elida joins Isaac, we also see them try to reconnect considering they used to work with each other a few years back and over the course of this volume, we learn more about their history and what led to them splitting ways.

There’s also a lot of surprises to Elida’s space adventure as we learn more about where the journey to finding her mother will take her and what her former friend Isaac Sterling has been up to!

Vagrant Queen features Black royalty, lots of action and adventure! This was such a great start to the series and overall is incredibly fun! I’m surprised I haven’t seen more discussion about this series, because its just a blast― start to finish!

Elida is a fun character to follow, she’s always ready to punch and fight someone if necessary, evade enemies, and always has a plan! I’m looking forward to learning even more about her in future installments.

The setting feels incredibly well developed through the slow progression of the world-building from the politics, our main protagonists & antagonist’s history, alongside the different planets, security and political figures!

The art style has a vintage aesthetic to it with a lot of bold colors that really bring each page to life! Alongside that, pages deliver on the detail whether its to a character, the setting or background, and the action is portrayed through the detailed lines and unique paneling!

What I wasn’t expecting was that this was more futuristic sci-fi dystopia than just sci-fi and that surprised me, but in a great way! This leaves certain future plot threads open for exploration in future installments, even as the story itself wraps-up wonderfully!

My only minor critiques are that, I did want a little more to Elida’s adventures (space travel, world exploration, etc.) but I’m sure there’s more to come in future installments!

And though I knew going in this series wouldn’t be for younger readers, I did find the mature/adult vibe of some parts of the story to not really click with me personally– again it isn’t too adult, but I wouldn’t recommend this for YA readers on the younger side.

Though rating aside on they enjoyment scale, this is definitely a 5 out of 5! Elida is a fantastic and captivating main character, I loved her banter, getting to learn more about her history with Isaac, and following them on their unique journeys as they reluctantly travel the galaxy together!

Also, its been a while since I’d read about this, but now that I’ve read Vagrant Queen it also seems fitting to mention that: its getting a series on SYFY in 2020! From what I’ve looked up it’ll have 10 episodes, the cast for Elida & Isaac look fantastic, & it already has a preview trailer which is pretty awesome!! So if your looking to be ahead of the hype for this new series, I recommend picking up Vagrant Queen 😁💜👑🚀

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 is a dynamic space opera featuring a fantastic female lead! Adventure, action, humor, great world-building, and page-turning story, this series has it all! Looking forward to future issues!

Silver In The Wood by Emily Tesh Review

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

Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Books)

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: Silver In The Wood

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

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

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bookish Buzz: New YA Books That Need More Hype!

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ I’m back with another Bookish Buzz! Originally debuting on my blog back in March, I created this feature to promote upcoming books that I feel deserve more love!

However, I wanted to change it up a bit today and not only promote upcoming books, but also a couple recently published or backlist titles!

A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai1. A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)

A Match Made In Mehendi is a wonderful YA Contemporary debut that you need to add to your TBR if you haven’t already! This is such a fun and heart-warming debut that follows Simi who comes from a long line of family matchmakers. But being the artist that she is, instead of following the usual family tradition she creates an app, to help her & her best friend Noah improve their high school status. But, things get a bit complicated when a match doesn’t sit right with one of her classmates. This book shines in so many ways from the first-person POV, she’s confident and passionate as an artist and her voice just draws you into the story from page 1! The characters, atmosphere, and plot all come together in such a fantastic way, easily making this one of my favorite YA Contemporary reads of 2019! (Full Review)

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring2.The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Imprint (Fierce Reads)

Set in 1970’s Argentina, The Tenth Girl follows Mavi who is escaping a military regime. She starts her new life undercover as as a teacher at a renowned finishing school. But there’s mysteries and secrets that loom within the house and Mavi is determined to uncover them. The writing is wonderfully atmospheric and delivers that perfect eerie vibe for fall. I personally love reading from 1st person, so reading from Mavi’s (and a second) POV just takes me right back into the setting and mystery of the story wherever I stop. I haven’t finished it yet, but the mystery is written in a way that I really appreciate where it slowly unfolds and your bringing the pieces together little by little! Can’t wait to finish it!

Rebel Heart by Axie Oh3.Rogue Heart by Axie Oh

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Tu Books

I’ve been looking forward to the next Rebel Seoul book for so long and I can’t believe its finally here! I remember absolutely loving the first book, where Axie introduces us to the political-driven and intriguing Neo states of Korea. From there we follow Lee Jaewon who wants to prove himself as a soldier, but instead learns much more about his country that he thought he knew. From its technological advancements to the central political themes, I fell in love with this debut back in 2017! I’m really looking forward to seeing whats next in Rogue Heart, which’ll have espionage, even more government secrecy and politics!

The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah4.Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Set in an underwater Great Britain at the end of the 21st Century, we follow Leyla McQueen who is determined to set her father free and prove his innocence by participating in a submarine competition that’ll take her outside of London for the first time. She’s also joined by a new companion as she also uncovers government secrets along the way! The summary alone just captivated me and I’ve been beyond excited to read this debut! It looks like there’ll be tons of action, adventure, and I can’t wait to learn more about Leyla.

Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell5.Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)

I recently finished this debut and let me tell you, if you love beautifully written, detailed and atmospheric YA Mysteries, you should definitely pick up Songs From The Deep! Set on an island town surrounded by sirens, violin player Moira and Lighthouse keeper Jude team up to solve a murder! I will say it is a slow and quiet type of mystery and focuses on its main characters (who were former childhood friends) as they reconnect and piece together the clues of the case. The focus on the m/f friendship between Moira and Jude is fantastic and easily a highlight of this book! The world-building is wonderful and both the setting and atmosphere really deliver through Moira’s POV! I highly recommend checking out this debut, its out tomorrow! (Full Blog Tour Review)

Thousand Fires by Shannon Price6. A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Available Through The Book Depository

Publisher: Tor Teen

This is a book I’ve really been looking forward to because of the unique concept and it drew me in right away. Not only is it pitched as a modern retelling of Iliad, but is also set in San Francisco and is an #OwnVoices Filipina YA! The story centers around Valerie Simons who is no stranger to the rival gangs of San Francisco, her brother was killed by one of them 2 years ago. She’d given an opportunity for revenge by the mysterious gang known as the Stags– led by “charismatic and volatile leader” Jax. She becomes torn along the way of what path she should choose and where the journey will lead her. This book just sounds incredibly unique and character-driven, Price’s debut is one that I will definitely be checking out.

Thanks for checking out Bookish Buzz! Are you looking forward to any of the books featured? 😍💖📚🎉

What new YA Books are on your radar? 😄📚📚