Pre-Order Book Swag, Using Libraries, & Why Libraries Matter To Me As A Book Blogger {Book Blogger Discussion}

Book Blog Discussion BannerIts time for a bookish chat! Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~💞✨📚 Today I wanted to talk about libraries & pre-order swag!

In this discussion, because I’m from the US, I’ll be focusing mainly on the U.S. in regards to libraries & book swag!

I’d been scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago and saw upcoming pre-order campaigns for Tara Sim’s Firestarter and Joan He’s Descendant Of The Crane!

Right away I noticed that for their campaigns, they’d be accepting library requests as part of their preorders, that made me so happy.

Thank you! Thank you!! 📚📚✨

We’re still given the opportunity to support anticipated books, even if we’re not able to purchase before release!

+I also want to shout-out Emily Suvada for her amazing thread during the release for This Cruel Design about libraries, supporting her book by reading it from the library & understanding that readers can’t always order right away!

joyce-mccown-791673-unsplash booksI feel like the push for library pre-orders should be encouraged more from publishers, because regardless, readers are still ordering in advance to support a book or author. It shouldn’t matter how a reader chooses to pre-order, I’m positive readers (especially teens) want to feel included in this!

I do know that Penguin Teen launches pre-order campaigns this way too, where people can send in a postcard w/ their addresses and still get swag without having pre-ordered the book! I do hope other publishers (especially more of the Big 5) take note and strive to do this because that makes the opportunity available to readers to get some cool swag, even if they aren’t ordering right away!

Overall, my point is there can be so much more support for libraries & library readers from publishers and that’s something I feel we should take note of!

I’ve been reading YA since about 2012 & in the beginning, the way I was able to keep up with these new releases and expand on my reading, was by checking all of these out through none other than–libraries!

Sure I bought a few books now & again, but a good 90% of the books I was reading, came from my local library!

The same applies to me today as a book blogger, while I am buying a few more books than before, I am constantly utilizing my library by requesting anticipated upcoming releases! (Starting this year, I’ve even added how I read each book in my wrap-ups, whether its from the library, owned, or an ARC).

I would have never had the opportunity to read so many new and amazing authors I now love, had it not been for being able borrowing and checking-out their books from the library!

As a university student, reader & especially a blogger, I wouldn’t be where I am without my local library and now I’m going to discuss a little more on ways you can utilize your library more & save money if you still want to support your most anticipated books!

Unsplash_Books_Roman-Kraft1. Talk to your librarians: They are always there to help and if you notice there’s a book you really want to read that’s not on the catalog, tell them! I talk with my local librarians weekly and if there’s a new release I haven’t seen on our inter-loan system they’ve told me they’re more than happy to talk to their supervisor + are always interested in new books I’ve recommended them.

2.Checking-out books: I still do this–but even if I’ve read and reviewed an ARC of a book, I still check it out from my local library to show my support!

The more a book is in demand at your library, the more copies they’ll purchase for readers (not just physical copies but e-books too), which can definitely support the author!

As I was looking more into libraries & how they support authors, I also came across a couple quotes and articles that I found to be super interesting reads:

“…if you are able to put a hold request on a book before it’s available, that might help libraries make a decision of whether or not to purchase more than a single copy. Books which are showing a lot of activity, like multiple holds on a single copy, suggest that the popularity and interest is there and the library should consider purchasing another copy or two to fulfill the interest.”–Book Riot, How To Support A Book

How Do Authors Make Money From Library Books

Now I’m sure there’s more ways your favorite authors/books can be supported by libraries, but those are just a couple I could think of regarding this specific topic! Feel free to share more in the comments ✨📚

In regards to pre-orders & libraries like I’ve discussed here, Vicky from Vicky Who Reads also touched on this a bit in her “How YA is Isolating Teens Discussion, that teens aren’t usually the one’s pre-ordering, because they are more often than not, getting it from the library! Though I’m not a teen, I agree 100% because that’s exactly what I’m still doing!

I can’t always afford to buy these new books right away, but that’s what makes libraries so awesome, I’m saving money & still supporting my favorite authors & new upcoming books!

Now I also asked on Twitter why others think libraries are important to them as readers & here were some responses:

So above all I just wanted to share this post on why libraries matter so much to me as a book blogger, reader, & supporter of authors!

And why library pre-order incentives are such an important & amazing way for readers to show their support!

I really hope you enjoyed this post & I would love your feedback! 😍✨📚

Also with this discussion of libraries & authors, I’ve compiled a list of YA authors who have books releasing, either late 2018 or coming up throughout 2019 and announced they are accepting library pre-orders in their campaigns (Will add more as they become available +be aware some end early before release day):

The Disasters by M.K. England (Releases December 18, 2018)

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson (Releases January 8, 2019)

Firestarter by Tara Sim (Releases January 15, 2018)

One Year Of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (January 15, 2019)

The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan (Releases January 29, 2019)

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He (Releases April 2, 2019) (Library request pre-order form not yet available)

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (Releases July 30, 2019) (Pre-Orders not announced yet)

Do you think more authors/publishers should include library requests in their pre-order campaigns? 📚📚🎉✨

As a book blogger, do you utilize your library to read and review for your blog? 💻📚✨

Anything you’d like to add to the discussion? 🎉📚💕✨😍

Advertisements

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean ARC Review

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko JeanEmpress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary: Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Empress Of All Seasons is a character-driven YA Fantasy inspired by rich, deeply woven Japanese mythology, great cast of characters, a plot filled with intrigue, politics, action, & adventure!

Empress was a book that had such a unique premise and what really made it shine, was the characters and their development!

Set in the country of Honoku, there’s strict rules against yokai, or those who have the ability to transform in to monsters or other supernatural creatures. They are treated as a lesser class and for those that are caught, are enslaved and forced to wear an iron collar that subdues them and their powers. More importantly, if any are found anywhere near the palace, they are either tortured or killed.

Mari is a Yokai. She lives in the all-female village of Tsuma, hidden away in the mountains of Honoku. She has been trained all her life by her strict mother, who along with all the other women in the village, are Animal Wives!

Animal Wives are women who use their Yoaki abilities to trick men into marrying them & take their fortunes.

Because Mari is assumed to never have the capability of becoming an Animal Wife, her mother has trained her in combat to ready herself for the competition that takes place in the Imperial City, mainly the Palace Of Illusions where all female contestants must battle within the 4 seasonal rooms for the prince’s hand in marriage!

Though she has never felt quite at home in her village, she does have one friend who she cares for deeply, Hissa! She is reminded of what it could mean for her and the yokai, but more importantly herself if she wins the title of empress.

Now a part of the competition, she must lie and deceive the court, pretend she is human and win the competition.

Within Mari’s village, we learn of a boy named Akira, who’s mother was a ghost yokai and father was human, he is known as the Son Of Nightmares. He has the ability to disappear and is one Mari’s other best friend!

They both care for each other, but its clear Akira really loves her!

When he learns she’s left for the competition, he takes charge to ensure she’s safe and tries to convince her to run away with him. He gets told to find a Weapons Master, which quickly leads him towards a new path and fate when trying to look after Mari!

Little does he know, he gets caught up in a rebellion, where there is a secret Yokai resistance, ready to destroy the system that keeps them enslaved. The rebellion is led by Hanako, aka Snow Girl, a yokai who has gathered a rebel army in secret + hiding to free the yokai!

Prince Taro, doesn’t want anything to do with the upcoming competition and spends his days in his workshop, creating and inventing. One of his favorite inventions is a mechanical bird! However, when Mari finds herself hiding behind a palace wall, she without knowing, ends up meeting prince Taro.

He becomes intrigued by her and the two have this almost unsaid crush on each other. What I loved about Jean’s development to the “romance” is that its never really a central aspect to the story. Mari is focused more on herself and where her goals will lead her & those she loves throughout the competition. Though its clear that Taro & Mari are interested in each other.

Akira becomes part of the rebellion to bring about a better world for Yokai, while with Prince Taro we are shown that he is not okay with how the yokai are treated (which started with his father, the Emperor), but still wants nothing to do with the throne.

I loved how these characters are so different than when the book begins and seeing them develop in such unique ways really kept me invested!

Empress is presented as a single and linear story focusing on a competition within seasonal rooms, but its so much more than just that! The summary really leaves out the different sides to this story, but it works so well, because you don’t really expect it!

Now I don’t want to spoil the end, but it really weaves together all these different plot threads and leaves on such an unexpected, but overall really satisfying note!

This novel is told through 3 POVs: we have Mari, Akira, & prince Taro! I loved how the differing POVs were not only distinct, but explore the world of Honako and the incredibly layered story.

I loved all 3 povs equally! Each character goes through so much development and undergo such unexpected journeys throughout the book.

There were also so many great side characters, like Asami who is alongside Mari w/ the other competitors to win title of Empress. She was so incredibly developed and I loved the interesting friendship they form when they both agree to be allies in the competition.

Asami is a character who is a bit of an enigma, but I love how there’s so much more to her reasoning for entering the competition + overall just her personality shines so much in this book. She was definitely one of my favorites!

Also aside from this novel being #ownvoices for Japanese rep./culture, was also the hint to Hanako being a lesbian (& that she loved Asami). 

Now as to why I’m rating this 4 stars, is due to the uneven pacing, a couple elements to the writing-style, & development in regards to the seasonal rooms!

  *TBH though, I find the rating on this to be super difficult for me to state because on an enjoyment scale its a 4.5, but if I’m looking at it overall, 4 seems to make the most sense? Ratings can be super difficult for me! 😂📚🌟

As the story progresses, the pacing becomes a bit slow especially throughout the middle and nearing the end. Yet, its also fast-paced near the end. So, above all the pacing fluctuated all throughout.

I did read an ARC so, this may have changed a bit, but the writing-style at points was rather direct and simplistic? So a lot of what what was introduced (in regards to characters, what they were feeling/development) did seem more like it was being told rather than shown.

I also loved the seasonal rooms within the palace, but I wish there was more even more development and inclusion of them with the overall story. Though with the background we do learn about them, it was fascinating– the rooms have a mind of their own and the extreme weather or obstacles the girls encounter within them, are a way of bringing balance to the rooms (which was so interesting!).

But, what I really loved about Empress Of All Seasons is that it accomplished what I expected more of in Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns, in terms of delivering a morally grey main character & the world-building!

Mari, to me seemed to be a bit of an anti-hero, there’s this dark side to her because she’s on this journey not just for her village, but along the way she learns its okay to go after things for yourself! She is showing these two differing sides and with the palace intrigue, its a mystery whether she’ll be able to keep her secrets!

Same goes with the world-building! The world isn’t just stated by the names of places, many elements to the world are explored, developed, and its incredibly immersive! I found myself picturing the world each and every moment I picked the book back up!

Overall, Empress Of All Seasons surprised me in many ways I was not expecting and ends on a note that really subverts tropes and expectations.

Empress Of All Seasons is a unique YA Fantasy, which is very character-driven, filled with intrigue, action, and adventure! If your looking for a standalone YA Fantasy with Japanese mythology, a competition, politics, & a rising rebellion, this is a fantasy you definitely want to check out!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta {Literary Travels}

Literary TravelsToday I’m introducing a new feature on the blog! Literary Travels is the working title and this idea came about as I was thinking of all the upcoming fantasy books on my TBR + how fantasy books usually come with maps!

Then from there I began to think of all the different locations traveled in fantasy books & if I were traveling to these fantasy worlds, where would I go what would I see, etc.

There are often so many different elements explored throughout fantasy books, that I also created this as a diary/log for series when future books are released (or stand-alones) and I find myself forgetting details about the world!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose CapettaSo to start off today’s Literary Travels feature, I’m spotlighting The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, a Queer YA Fantasy inspired by 19th Century Italy!

If you follow me on Twitter, you also may have seen me gushing about it, so its great I’m introducing this feature with The Brilliant Death, because as I was reading I could really picture the setting and get an understanding of the history, culture, you name it!

**Literary Travels will feature specifics about the setting of each book, so be wary of detailed locations/world-building if you don’t want to be spoiled!**

This feature will probably vary from post to post, but I hope it’ll serve as a guide of sorts if you find yourself reading these fantasy books and highlight the amazing settings, culture, etc. explored!

Hope you enjoy and let me know your thoughts on this new feature in the comments below! 😍📚🗺

Welcome to:

Vinalia

A country rich with history & breathtaking architecture, you’ll be enamored by all it has to offer!

From the shores of the Violetta Coast to the northern edge of the Neviane mountain range, there’s plenty to explore within Vinalia!

With this Literary Travels Guide, you’ll learn about the best cities, clothing, food and maybe some lesser known secrets about this country, to make the most out of your visit!

Within Vinalia you must know that there are 5 ruling families across the region, with the Capo being the current main ruler of the country!

The 5 Families include (From East to West): di Sangro, Moschella, Rao, Otto, & Altimari

Here are some major cities and locations you’d want to keep in mind when visiting:

Chieza: Found within the mountain ranges of The Uccelli, this city is known for its markets containing anything from beautiful linens to dried foods.

Reader’s of this guide, don’t forget to check out Storyteller’s Grave! Its said to be a ravine located to the west of Chieza. However, legend says it received that name because men from Chieza would drink and shout stories near its edge, with those least fortunate falling in.

Villages surrounding Chieza are also known for having vibrant-colored tile roofs.

The Uccelli: A mountain range that crosses across the east of Vinalia.

Ruling family: di Sangro

Violetta Coast: Located towards the southeast of Vinalia, this vibrant coastal area is known for its vineyards.

Aside from its vineyards, Violetta Coast is also known for its trades in spices and metals, considering its close to the shore.

Ruling family: Rao

Moving on towards the west we have the cities of:

Prai: Known for its gambling tables

Gravina: Famously known for its universities

Ruling family: Otto

Salvi: One of the largest islands off the coast of Vinalia.

Ruling Family: Altimari

Amalia: If your arriving through Estatta Valley, you’ll immediately he brightly-tiled roofs ranging from red, to pink and orange.

Tile adorns the bridges, there’s also rustic statues, bronze decor, & marble buildings.

There are a variety of shops ranging from cheese, breads, to even sweets.

  –Don’t forget to check out the Amalia Opera House

Weather

Generally a warm climate, the sun is particularly strong in Vinalia, with nights getting rather cold. However, the mountain ranges bring about strong wind.

History

The last era of magic was said to have ended close to 500 years ago. During that time Streghe began getting wiped out, being labeled heretics. From that, the Order of Prai was born.

They later tried to bury the beliefs & old faith of the past, but gods & goddesses are still remembered.

Gods and goddesses are still widely cherished:

  • Melae: Goddess of Death
  • Cecci: God of Wine
  • Elia: Goddess of Food & Beauty
  • Erras: God of Judgement
  • Veria: Goddess of Truth

Magic System:

Within Vinalia, rumors have floated around that there are Strega, or those with magical abilities. Though they live in secret considering magic isn’t as common as it once was, many say Strega are just fairy tales.

Interesting Facts:

-Within Uccelli there’s a mountain known as:  The Weeping Mountain

-Touching iron keeps away hardship

-The neighboring country of Eterra is known for its universities

-Tales of Vinalia include: The Pearl Girl & The Castle Without A Soul

That brings us to the end of the guide! As you can see, Vinalia is a vast country with a variety of immersive locations & a rich history!

Thanks for checking out this first issue of Literary Travels, hope it was a helpful resource you’ll keep these in mind when visiting Vinalia!  ✈📚✨

This feature was so much fun to create and I hope it inspired you to pick up The Brilliant Death! Can’t wait to share my next Literary Travels guide!

Thoughts on this literary guide? 📚😍

Are you planning to read The Brilliant Death? If you have, I’d love your thoughts on this guide! ✨⚔📚

October 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi1. Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2.5)

Library | Started September 12 + Finished October 1 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Star-Touched Stories Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This collection is not one to miss for fans of The Star-Touched Series! They explore love, loss, acceptance, finding one’s inner strength & so much more! The 3 stories within this collection include: Death And Night, Poison And Gold, & Rose And Sword. What I adored about this collection is that even though it supplements the series, there continues to be so much development that adds more to the TSTQ world overall, in such a fantastic way! While I did take my time reading this collection, it was until I got to the last story that I was really savoring each moment with these characters & I still wasn’t ready to leave this world behind (B/c this is the final Star-Touched novel). I’m really going to miss Maya, Amar, Aasha, & my fave duo Gauri & Vikram 😭✨❤ My only minor issue is that there was some slow pacing throughout Aasha’s story. I adored this collection so much and felt it wonderfully wrapped up the series!

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab2.Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (Villains #2)

Owned | Started September 27 + Finished October 8 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½|Vengeful Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Vengeful is the sequel we’ve waited years for! This novel is brilliantly dark, action-packed, & character-driven! What Schwab does that really takes this sequel in a different direction, is allowing the story to focus more on new/side-characters (like Marcella & June) and there’s also the introduction to this mysterious organization called EON. I loved getting more to Eli’s backstory and overall seeing the fate of these characters I loved, 5 years later! Schwab brilliantly incorporates numerous POVs across a varied amount of timelines and with series in particular, masterfully ties everything together. As to why it wasn’t a full 5, the pacing did feel a bit slow when I finally saw where the story would lead. As the book progressed, I actually found myself less interested in June as a character, & I really wanted more scenes of Victor & Eli (b/c I adore these messed up super-villains so much!! ❤❤) Above all, Vengeful was an epic, dark, twisted continuation to the Villains Series, that took everything I loved from Vicious & brought it to an entirely new level!

The Royal Tutor Volume 2 by Higasa Akai3. The Royal Tutor Vol. 2 by Higasa Akai (The Royal Tutor #2)

Owned | Started + Finished October 15 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Royal Tutor Volume 2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Royal Tutor is one of my favorite manga series and I was so happy to be continuing it with volume 2! Heine, the tutor, now begins is introductory lessons with the princes. What makes this volume shine is the focus on the characters (mainly princes) and the strong tight-knit bond they share. Their always there to support each-other & I loved seeing my favorite princes be there for one another 😭❤❤✨ The plot unfolds in a great way (as do the mysteries) and the comedy in this series is fantastic! My only minor issue is that I’m really hoping to get more expansion on the setting & there are 2 side characters who barley have any page time, so I don’t feel like I know a whole lot about them. The Royal Tutor continues to be a great manga series with a main cast you can’t help but adore & filled so much humor. I’m really looking forward to the 3rd volume!

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore4. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

ARC |Started October 12 + Finished October 25 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |Blanca & Roja ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Anna-Marie’s tales always captivate me and Blanca & Roja is no different. Her latest lush magical realism tale weaves together Swan Lake with Snow White And Rose Red and its such a beautiful story! We follow sisters Blanca and Roja, who have been raised to be rivals involving a generation-long spell where every generation in their family, one of 2 sisters will become a swan! Having grown up to believe they will always be opposites, Roja believes she will be taken by the swans. Even though this conflict exists between them, their bond is so strong & they are willing to keep secrets to help one another. However things change when 2 boys, Page & Barclay, become involved in this game. As with all of McLemore’s books, she explores identity and gender so beautifully! I adored these 4 with all my heart ❤ The dynamics explored between each of them have so many layers and are beautifully developed. The plot unravels in unexpected & magical ways! Family, love, and identity are such important themes in this novel and are explored with such depth! As with all of Anna-Marie’s novels, they are truly unforgettable & will continue to stay with me! I can’t wait for her next amazing novel~

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta5. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death #1)

ARC Review | Started October 24 + Finished October 26 |My Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Brilliant Death ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The Brilliant Death was a book I went into with incredibly high expectations and was incredibly happy to see that it exceeded them! Set in a magical 19th Century-inspired Italian setting, we are introduced to Teo(a Strega) who goes on a mission to the country of Vinalia’s capital to save her father (one of 5 heads of the controlling families), when it seems all the families heads have fallen. She must do so, not disguised as a boy, but turned into one! With her Strega abilities, alongside her gender-fluid tutor Cielo, they both embark on this journey & discover so much along the way! The world of Vinalia is detailed, immersive, & given wonderful development + exploration! My only minor issue is that ending did feel a little rushed. However, The Brilliant Death is a wholly unique and fantastic start to a new YA Fantasy series! With exploration of gender & identity, and an adventure filled with politics & intrigue, Amy Rose Capetta’s fantasy debut is not one to miss! I’m expecting so much from this series!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 16. Satoko And Nada by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #1)

Library| Started + Finished October 27 | My Rating: ★★★★★ | Satoko And Nada Volume 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Satoko & Nada is one of those mangas that I think will definitely be loved for fans of YA! Continuing their uni/college studies in America, Satoko and Nada find themselves becoming roommates and the best of friends! What truly shines about this manga debut is the friendship and amazing characters, from Satoko, Nada, Pakeezah, Ameena, Miracle, & Kevin! The characters are so incredibly developed and they really come to life by the end of this first volume! Satoko & Nada also discusses common misconceptions of Saudi & Islamic culture, while also discussing homesickness, etc. Its also really diverse! The pacing is fantastic, the comedy is perfect, & its the kind of story you want to re-read all over again because it leaves a smile on your face! Satoko & Nada is a fantastic manga debut and one I highly recommend if your looking for a comedic contemporary, & slice-of-life story!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Girl In Space Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Author Interview With Janelle Milanes {Analee, In Real Life}

No More Heroes: Hell Or High Water by Michelle Kan {Exclusive Cover Reveal}

Non-Fiction Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To! {Literary Listens}

Book Bytes #16

~ So overall I was pretty happy with the books I read in October & the content I posted ❤🎃✨📚😍 I’m also slowly but, surely getting back on track with my TBR!

Plans For November:

~ As always catch up on ARCs & new releases 😅📚✨ If your interested in seeing more daily reading/bookish updates definitely check out my twitter! & I’ve been in kind of Twitter slump recently, so it’d be so awesome to start bookish conversations on there 😍📚✨❤❤

~ I’ve been working on a new blog feature & I am beyond excited to be debuting it this month on the blog! (Hint: it involves recently released/upcoming fantasy books!!) 😍📚✨⚔

~ I also may have another Literary Listens post up, it could be a podcast review or a podcast recommendation list! (I’m still deciding) 🎙✨

~ I’m also prepping some December & early 2019 posts that will definitely introduce some new bookish content to my blog! ❤❤📚🎉

Thanks for checking out my October 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in October? or Any blog posts you enjoyed creating last month? Are there any that your planning on reading in November? 😍📚✨💕

Satoko And Nada Vol. 1 by Yupechika {Manga Review}

Satoko And Nada Vol. 1Satoko & Nada Vol. 1 by Yupechika {Satoko & Nada}

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Pages: 180

Available Through The Book Depository: Satoko And Nada Volume 1

Summary: Satoko, who is Japanese, has a new roommate in America: a Saudi Arabian woman named Nada, who practices Islam and wears a hijab. While under the same roof, Satoko and Nada learn how to live together with very different customs and still have all the fun young women crave! Through mutual respect—and the hilarious adventures of their daily life—Satoko and Nada prove that friendship knows no borders. 

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Satoko & Nada is a fantastic manga debut that follows two women, Satoko & Nada as they become roommates while continuing their university studies in America! They learn more about each other’s cultures, go on fun adventures, & become the best of friends! This is a new manga series you don’t want to miss!

From the moment I heard about Satoko & Nada I knew I just had to give it a read!

I don’t usually read slice-of-life or contemporary manga all too often, but when I do read them I really want to pick one that I’ll truly love! Satoko & Nada was just that! I adored every page, panel, & moment, & am really looking forward to the future volumes in this series!

This manga follows Satoko who is college student from Japan and Nada, a college student from Saudi Arabia, and the two move to America to continue their studies!

The story starts off with Satoko heading to Nada’s apartment! Satoko’s decided to become her roommate and all the adventures begin from there.

Right away we see just how fast they become friends and all the random moments throughout their semester from eating out, shopping, driving, watching movies, & so much more, that we really see the power of their friendship! (´▽`ʃƪ)💕

Yupechika builds their friendship and dynamic in such a wonderful + fantastic way, that you really see how much they care for each other!

Satoko & Nada also discusses Saudi & Japanese culture in moments throughout the manga + by showing how both of them are adjusting to American culture!

Yupechika also elaborates on common misconceptions about Saudi & Islamic culture! (She notes where laws have changed within the text, considering Satoko & Nada was actually published already, back in 2017).

Satoko is curious about Nada’s Saudi Arabian & Islamic culture and because of that as the reader you get into detail about common misconceptions, Saudi Arabian & Islamic customs, laws, and different kinds of hijabs, etc.!

While this novel is also filled with such happy and comedic moments, it also tackles sensitive & real topics, from encounters with strangers & homesickness!

Aside from the incredible plot and dynamic between Satoko & Nada, there’s also such an amazing cast of characters!

Throughout the manga I was able to connect with every character in the main cast and I found they truly came to life with each panel! Aside from Satoko & Nada, there’s Kevin (Satoko’s conversation partner), Miracle (who Satoko helps to avoid a stranger kidnapping), & Nada’s friends Pakeezah & Ameena!

What I also love about this manga so much is how inclusive it is! From the leading main characters being Japanese & Saudi-Arabian, there’s also Kevin who’s Japanese-American, & above all the exploration of Saudi & Japanese culture!

The author does such a fantastic job at weaving in the characters, their story & allowing their personality to shine throughout the plot!

Their dynamics were so well explored!

There was honestly nothing I didn’t like about Satoko & Nada. The pacing is great, the comedic moments and real life/serious ones all arrive at perfect moments, alongside the characters and plot!

I also loved the artwork! Its detailed and has a very unique style that stood out!

Satoko & Nada is a fantastic manga and I highly recommend picking it up! I had high expectations for this manga & I’m happy to say they were all exceeded!

I’m really looking forward to more of Satko and Nada’s adventures in volume 2!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 1 is an incredible contemporary manga that follows 2 university students who go to America to continue their studies! The remarkable cast of characters, wonderfully executed plot, and emphasis on friendship, makes this such a unique manga! The focus on friendship, inclusive cast, and brilliant plot in Satoko And Nada will leave a smile on your face & have you eager for the next volume!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta ARC Review

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose CapettaThe Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death #1)

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 30, 2018

Pages: 352

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Brilliant Death

Summary: For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas–wielders of magic–are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son–not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country–and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.

*Received ARC through Bookish First*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Brilliant Death is a YA Fantasy filled with politics, magic & adventure! Set in a magical country inspired by 19th-century Italy, we follow Teo on a journey to the palace of the current ruler and uncover the secrets to save her father, leader of one of five mafia families! Capetta’s novel is character-driven, action-packed tale of intrigue, that also explores gender and identity, that will have you hooked from page 1!

I had incredibly high hopes for The Brilliant Death, so when I reached the last page, not only had I been surprised in so many ways, but I was left ready to get my hands on the sequel!

The Brilliant Death is such an immersive, wonderfully developed, and rich story that you won’t even notice the pages flying by! There’s so much packed into each page & chapter, everything about Capetta’s story is so incredibly vivid and real!

Everything you think you know about Teo & her world just expands on a massive scale and goes in directions your not really expecting! There’s so many different plot threads  + mysteries, but they all manage to come together in the end & in really unique ways!

Capetta has forged a tale rich with politics, an immersive and unique fantasy world, with a plot that contains so many different layers to it, that everything about Teo and her journey comes to life in such detail!

Teodora (or Teo) di Sangro has understood since she was little, the power of her family! As the 2nd daughter of one of five ruling mafia families in the country of Vinalia, Teo knows that family comes first.

In order to do that, she uses her magical abilities as a Strega (in secret) to take care of those who’ve done wrong by her family, by transforming them into objects from fans to prayer beads, even daggers!

Early on in the story, we’re introduced to Pietro, who did wrong by the family & is one of the di Sangro’s latest victims. Teo is ruthless in defending her family and intimidating those to get the answers she needs. As punishment, she turns him into a music box!

Teo is no stranger to this form of punishment, we learn she even has her room filled with, what we learn are, all those she’s transformed (permanently it seems) into a variety of objects!

Family is so important in this story! From the exploration of her dynamic with her youngest brother Luca (who is the sweetest, I adored him (´▽`ʃƪ)💕), to the powerful bond she has with her father, Niccolo di Sangro, her older sister, stepmother & other siblings, Capetta shows just how much family means to Teo and how vital it is to the story!

Magic is not widely accepted as it once was and now the subject of fairy tales! But, Teo finds herself unsure of her place with magic in her mafia family, especially when she does use it to help them with her powerful + ruthless father who not only has no idea, but also doesn’t accept magic!

When the leaders of the 5 ruling families are poisoned one by one by letters sent from the current ruler, the Capo, Teo decides to take charge alongside Luca & a mysterious gender-fluid mage by the name of Cielo to the Palazza and answer the Capo’s message, not disguised as boy, but turned into one!

Her father may have a chance, but only if she can reach the Capo & find a way to save him!

From the beginning we are introduced to Luca di Sangro, Teo’s younger brother who hasn’t been interested in taking over for the family, but going to university and continuing with his studies, mainly in science!

We see just how close they are and that Teo is ruthless in protecting her family, but most importantly Luca, who she cares for so much!

The 2 embark on this journey and along the way are reunited with Cielo (& his magical transformation book) who then becomes Teo’s tutor and help her control her abilities and use them to save her family!

Now the 3 of them are on a journey to make it to the Palazza, but not without heartbreak, secrets revealed about the magic within their kingdom, & the harsh realities Teo faces as she encounters danger, politics, intrigue, and so much more!

Not only that, but we learn Cielo lost his mother and I just loved exploring his story + learning more about him!!

The Brilliant Death has so many fantastic elements that you really see Teo and her world come to life in this story that’s so incredibly developed and immersive, the pages will fly right before your eyes!

Set in a fantasy world inspired by the author’s Italian background, you can really see the heart and authenticity to the setting, culture, and politics explored in this story! The many different layers to the setting and world are also given great development and exploration, I was beyond impressed with how much of the unique + vast world I retained after finishing!

I don’t want to spoil too much about the setting, but there’s goddesses, magic, warring mafia families, rival powers (mainly by the country of Eterra), political intrigue, and so much history weaved throughout the story and at such perfect moments, you never feel bogged down at all! Capetta weaves in such lush descriptions and fascinating tidbits about the world, its such a wonderfully developed setting, you could really picture it!

*I will say one of my favorite parts about the setting you learn about later in the story, is this interesting circular dungeon within the Palazza (with 8 different levels) & it gave me major Six Of Crows vibes from the Ice Court!

The Brilliant Death reminded me why I love politics and intrigue in YA Fantasy! From the unsaid secrets between Teo, her siblings, & parents, the secrets and image Teo needs to keep up with in the game of intrigue within the Palazza, all of these and more, build into the story and really keeps the reader guessing!

The exploration of magic was also so incredibly developed that I found it built with each major plot point! From the different abilities Stregha can have to details about the magic itself that really builds into the story as you get further into it!

Capetta’s writing through 1st person not only gives you such an in-depth look to Vinalia through Teo’s eyes, but also allows you to connect so much to the characters and the plot!

As mentioned above, this novel also weaves in the importance and differing sides to gender, identity, & how one finds comfort within their own skin, which is explored so wonderfully.

Teo identifies as queer, while Cielo is gender-fluid and alternates between he & she pronouns (which is specifically stated through Teo whenever Cielo goes between he/she). In Teo’s world and within her family, the boys have higher expectations + clearly are given more of a say (unlike Teo).

With her lessons to try & transform with Cielo + once she makes it to the palace & meets the other ruling families sons, she is constantly met with expectations by taking on the role of a son, which has its pros & cons when it comes to keeping it a secret. She’s thought about this for so long and now that she is given the opportunity to save her father, she finds herself easily accepting her different identities!

She uses this to her ability to uncover even more secrets that it really turns the plot into very unique directions!

The characters were all fantastic and I loved them all (even the villains) because they are all so incredibly complex, multi-faceted, and developed, that you understand them so well by the end of this book and they may even come to surprise you!

Not only is there Teo, her father, & Luca, but also her other siblings + relatives like Beniamo (the oldest brother) & Mirella, but her cousins Carina & Adele, and her stepmother Fiorenza (Teo & her stepmother’s dynamic was so wonderfully developed!!).

There’s also Cielo, the Capo, the ruling families sons: Ambrogio, Vanni, Lorenzo, Rao and 2 mysterious girls within the Palazza, Azzurra & Delfina!

There were so many great dynamics explored with Teo throughout this book, but aside from her & Luca, I have to shout-out a few of my favorites: Teo & the adorable Cielo (their banter & relationship is the best!!), but also Teo & Azzurra (she was so interesting & really surprised me!) + Teo & Ambrogio!!

Now I don’t really want to give away too much of the plot, but truly it surprised me in so many ways and I loved following Teo on her journey to help her father, but also learn more about her home of Vinalia!

My only minor critique is that the last part of the story (its split up by 5) did feel a bit rushed nearing the end!

I am beyond excited for the next one and highly recommend picking it up if your a fan of political fantasy books, are looking for Queer + Genderfluid rep, and are looking for a unique and immersive YA Fantasy tale!

The Brilliant Death is a book I managed to finish in just a few days and I am just beyond happy it surprised + went above my expectations! I am beyond excited to see where Teo’s journey is headed in book 2!

This tale set in 19th Century Italy weaves with magic, exploration of gender & identity and is filled with a wholly unique magic system and world that transports you in an instant! It has easily become one of my new favorite YA Fantasy books, with its expansive setting, immersive story and world, themes of family, love & so much adventure + intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat! The Brilliant Death is Capetta’s start to a new fantasy series and not one you want to miss!

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a new upcoming feature to the blog, with The Brilliant Death being the first of that new series! If you love fantasy + fantasy settings, you’ll definitely want to check it out!! 😍✨⚔📚

Blanca And Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ARC Review

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemoreBlanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Pages: 375

Summary: The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

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

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

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Blanca & Roja is magnificent tale that weaves in beautiful prose, powerful themes of family, sisterhood, and identity! As the del Cisne sisters attempt to break free from the bonds of a generations-long spell and when 2 boys become tangled in it, they know this will not be an easy game to win!

No matter what Anna-Marie writes, I will read it! I had been looking forward to this book for so long & now that I’ve finished it I’m not entirely sure I can form coherent thoughts about how amazing Blanca & Roja was!

Not only is this is lush magical realism story, but its also a retelling of Snow White & Rose Red weaved together with Swan Lake!

Blanca & Roja del Cisne are sisters, but not only that, they are also rivals in a generations-long spell that has left one sister of each family, turned into a swan!

McLemore’s tale is filled with such descriptive and elegantly delivered prose that just paints such vivid and vibrant settings, characters, and emotion with each page!

Both sisters are grown up to be seen as total opposites where Roja is seen as less graceful and the one with “blood-soaked” hair, while Blanca is the older gentler one who is seen as more graceful.

Because of that, its believed she will be the one spared by the swans. Regardless, this forces Roja & Blanca to always have this underlying truth in the back of their minds, that they will one day be lost to each other, just as the other sisters before them!

What I loved about Blanca & Roja so much, was that even though we see this hidden but present conflict between them, their is a beautiful and powerful sister bond that exists within them both, but as they’ve gotten older its become a lot easier to remain hidden.

Not only have these conflicting views about them been perpetuated by their parents and people around town, but also through the inevitable spell itself! They really don’t want to lose each other and you feel + see that so much through their separate POVs!

–That reminds me: I adored the multiple POVs so much! We explore this tale from 4 distinct 1st person POVs which include Blanca, Roja, Page & Yearling (Barclay)!

They each undergo their own personal journey of identity, understanding what they are willing to risk everything for, and accepting the love they never thought they’d find.

Blanca is keeping a secret which brings a lot of uncertainty into the game with the Cisnes (involving a blue-eyed boy who could save one of them!), Roja undergoes a journey of seeking out truths + taking charge of her own destiny, while Page + Barclay undergo journeys of finding out who they are meant to be, while attempting to leave their pasts behind them!

With the game of the swans always ending with one sister being transformed into a swan and the other left behind, the sisters think its best to stay close to home with their parents, cousins & aunts.

The family curse causes Blanca & Roja to go behind each others backs in the hopes they can still find a way to stay together! Their fierce and determined loyalty to each other just left me feeling so heartbroken at their rivalry, but with sisters myself, it was just so powerful + moving and something I could relate to so much!

The beautiful + complex exploration of their dynamic was so beautiful & heart-breaking all at once!

Though their game becomes a bit more tangled when local boys Page Ashby and Barclay Holt find themselves drawn into the forest near the del Cisne’s house, leaving Page the ability to weave in & out of his body and become part of the forest, while Barclay (or Yearling) finds himself transformed into a bear!

Both boys later escape the forest after spending quite some time there and become a part of Blanca & Roja’s lives!

Page escaped from the family of apple farmers who never really understood him, while Barclay left behind his wealthy family because of a secret he uncovered, involving his cousin Liam!

As with Anna-Marie’s previous novels, she explores identity and gender so beautifully as we see that Page is genderqueer & trans, who uses varied pronouns (but through Blanca’s POV we see that Page goes by she/her)! 

Also as we see the beautiful relationship develop between Blanca & Page, Blanca identifies as Queer!

When Page & Yearling reemerge from the forest, we see that they are not who they were when they first entered! Yearling or Barclay, now has to adjust with a disability, not being able to see as clearly as he did before in one eye! Page is finding that perfect place of seeing where he can truly belong while also caring for those he loves!

Page & Yearling were truly precious & I loved both of them with all my heart! ❤ Reading their journey to find themselves and seeing their beautiful dynamic to always support one another was just–so beautiful!

And while their were such wonderful friendships/sibling dynamics explored, I also adored the romance! McLemore’s romances are always so beautifully explored and complex that just have so many layers to them! I loved the sweet relationship between Blanca & Page (& their date in the apple orchard!!) + I adored Roja & Yearling’s powerful dynamic/friendship as they begin to see they aren’t who each of them expected to be & that builds into such a beautiful relationship! (& their hang-out to get ice cream <3)

As with McLemore’s other novels, she explores so many themes alongside many different facets to her stories that have so many layers to them: First, the theme of sisterhood, which is really at the core of this story (which I related to so incredibly much)! Then there’s family & love as we see Blanca & Roja’s family & found family remain a very important part of the story! There’s also periods/menstruation & its pain explored through Roja’s POV & I don’t usually see it explored in such a way as it was with Blanca y Roja– & it was just relatable, but also just so amazing to read about in YA!

Being able to relate to this novel too, identifying as Latinx was just so incredible and reminds me why I love Anna-Marie’s books so much! I could truly see myself in Blanca & Roja and relating so much to them in a way that left me connecting to them 100% (I also loved the Quetzal references ❤ ❤ + the cascarones (confetti-filled Easter eggs!) I’d actually known about them for years, but the name always escaped me, now I’ll definitely remember after reading about them in Blanca & Roja ^_^

The plot itself unravels in some unexpected ways, which I really loved! Some of my favorite moments included the del Cisne’s sisters dates/hang-outs w/ Page & Barclay, the mystery of how they would outmaneuver the swans game, & basically ever other plot point!! The way it developed always left me in surprise, joy, fear, and so many other emotions as I was constantly worried for Blanca & Roja as they tried to better understand each other in the ever-evolving game w/ the swans!

With this book also as a retelling of Snow White & Rose Red, I also loved how Blanca & Roja presented the story + how it was turned introduced into the story itself + delivered in a way that really left so much symbolism.

Another important element to this book that I really loved exploring was the forest! Its very much its own world and represented many different things to Blanca, Roja, Page & Barclay! It was a place of peace & transition, but also a place of fear and inevitability, that I found was described so wonderfully and you could see its duality through each POV! It is a place of beauty, but has a darkness to it and I adored that exploration!

My only minor issue (which is totally on me) & why I’m leaving it at 4.5 for now, is that I did spend a little more time reading this book than I would have liked (b/c there’s always so many books I need to catch up on 😂) But regardless of that, because I also found myself taking my time with this story, I loved that I truly got to understand Blanca, Roja, Barclay & Page so much!! They really came to life & their whole group dynamic was just so complex, multi-layered & developed from the very beginning to the very end!

Blanca & Roja is a story that really explores the relationships/dynamics we have with those we love and that was easily one of the overarching elements of this novel that was present from page 1 all throughout the story!

Blanca & Roja is an unforgettable, magical, beautifully written, & captivating story I will never forget! As with McLemore’s other novels, a lush and descriptive writing evokes so much as important themes such as family and identity weave their way into the story! The plot is immersive, filled with mystery, the characters are fantastic, and everything about this stunning magical realism tale comes to life with each and every page!