All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry Review

All The Wind In The World by Samantha MabryAll The Wind The World by Samantha Mabry

Publisher: Algonquin Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 264

Summary:Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love. 

*Received an early finished copy from the publisher*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: All The Wind In The World paints an immersive and atmospheric tale that follows Sarah Jac & James as they find themselves on the Real Marvelous ranch and find their bond slowly fading away! Mabry blends contemporary, dystopia, and elements of magical realism to deliver a wholly unique tale!

 I really loved Mabry’s debut A Fierce And Subtle Poison and her wonderful writing easily brought her tale to life. So, thanks so much to the publisher for an early copy of All The Wind In The World~

Pretending to be cousins, Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt travel from desert ranch to desert ranch to get enough money to one day stop working and hopefully start their own horse ranch and live peacefully together.

However when a desert storm accident forces them to flee and catch a train to find work elsewhere, they reach the Real Marvelous and find their relationship slowly shifting and changing entirely. With their sweeping tale of love to heartbreak, I found my own heart breaking as I read their relationship slowly fading away 😥

The fade and possible slow rebuild of the relationship was not only emotional to read about, but overall unlike any relationship I’d ever read in YA before!

Sarah Jac finds herself alone as she notices that James begins to change when she is told to take on an equestrian job, working with one of the ranch owner’s daughters, Bell. As she continues to work on the Real Marvelous she finds herself stuck and unsure whether she can break free from this supposedly cursed ranch!

As the story progresses, we learn more about her life before the ranches in Chicago and her younger sister Lane, who passed away quite some time ago.

Mabry blended a dystopia desert setting with contemporary magical elements (weaved throughout) in such a way that I’ve never read before. The mysteries surrounding the world and how it came to be actually made the story that much more magical for me!

Additionally, it was great to see diversity in this story! There was Sarah Jac, who is mixed-race and an m/m relationship towards the middle between Raoul & Leo (who is an important character from early on and as the novel progresses).

Because this novel is very character and atmospheric-driven, I did want the plot to be expanded on a little more and felt the pacing could have been just a bit faster. While I really loved the unique characters introduced, I would have loved for them to be developed more over the course of the story as well.

I loved reading from Sarah’s POV! Through the rich and atmospheric writing, the setting and way of life for jimadors (farmers) felt very gritty and real.

Especially through the setting, Sarah’s POV brings to life the hardship these workers faced continuously going from ranch to ranch to get enough to support themselves/their families, while enduring the grittiness of the desert!

As mentioned above, I adored the description and atmosphere of the desert setting! Taking place in deserts of Southwest Texas, there was such vivid description of the setting, weather, and grittiness of what Mabry portrayed and I loved that so much!

And overall the creativity of Maby’s stories always has me anticipating her next book!

All The Wind In The World is an atmospheric story which blends dystopia in the deserts of the South West with mystery, romance, and contemporary with hints of magical realism! Mabry’s writing builds a dark and gritty atmosphere which delivers a unique aspect to an equally unique tale!

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Elizabeth And Zenobia by Jessica Miller ARC Review

Elizabeth And Zenobia by Jessica MillerElizabeth And Zenobia by Jessica Miller

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Pages: 208

Summary:Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago.

*Received ARC from a festival

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Elizabeth And Zenobia is a unique middle-grade read! The plot is unique, the gothic + light paranormal atmosphere, and the writing brings so much to this story!

Elizabeth And Zenobia really surprised me! While I knew I would enjoy the story based off the summary, the more I read, the more I really fell in love with this book!

The story starts of with Elizabeth Murmur talking about Witheringe House, her father’s childhood home and the place she’d soon be moving into!

As she waits for the train with her father (a botanist), we get introduced to Zenobia, her imaginary + best friend. She is shown to have quite an opposite personality to Elizabeth (more outgoing/adventurous, etc.) and while at times they had their small clashes, they really made a great duo and seeing those stark differences between the two added a great element to the story!

They board the train and head to the house! It is also revealed that Elizabeth’s mother had left for some time and its clear it took a toll not only on her father, but her as well. Especially, in the beginning we see the somewhat distant father/daughter relationship they have!

It was really interesting to read about how she learned more about her father’s grief and learning a little more about him through reading some of his published books as a botanist.

Over the course of the novel, the story really focuses on Elizabeth’s personal growth/confidence she gains, learning more about her father, and continuing to grow the connection she has with Zenobia as they spend their time going on all kinds of adventures throughout their stay in the Witheringe House.

I felt the writing was so atmospheric and detailed, with such few pages! I loved it~ It was definitely one of my favorite aspects about the book! It was a very descriptive and atmospheric 1st person POV. Characters, writing, atmosphere and plot all flowed so well. Additionally, it really weaved in the light gothic, paranormal, and mystery elements seamlessly. It felt like the perfect October read!

With most books I can usually tell where the plot’s headed, but with this book it was unexpected and I was left surprised with each turn of the page! That made me love this book so much more as I continued reading.

Originally, this was going to be 4 stars b/c I still feel the pacing was pretty slow for me towards the middle and because of that I put down the book for a few weeks & didn’t get back to finishing it until recently! The ending also did feel a little bit rushed. However, the more I continued to read I realized just how much I really loved this book! 

While her mother is gone, it was so great to read that she was still surrounded by supportive female + motherly figures! Such as Zenobia (though they did get into some trouble every now and again) and nearing towards the middle, she meets Ms. Clemency, a tutor, who is very kind towards Elizabeth and helps her overcome some internal struggles along the way.

Themes of family, and definitely friendship + personal growth were weaved all throughout this story!

There are also fantasy elements hinted at throughout the book and shown much later,  but were so easily weaved into the story and just fit in perfectly! While reading, I could definitely capture the atmosphere and magic of the story through the fantastic writing!

Elizabeth and Zenobia is a light paranormal, but fun and immersive read, perfect for the fall season! It delivers such a unique plot, important themes, fantastic writing, and the perfect atmosphere! Definitely a book to check out if your looking for a fall read or just want to read a unique and immersive middle grade tale!

The Backstagers Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV + Rian Sygh Review

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

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Pages: 112

Summary:All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic literally! 

When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen. 

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Backstagers is a fun, colorful, and diverse graphic novel that shows the magic both on and behind the stage! The plot and characters are unique and the art is fantastic!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read such a fun and vibrant graphic novel! The Backstagers is now definitely a new favorite graphic novel series.

The story follows Jory when he attends a new all-boys high school. With his mother’s new job going to be keeping her late the next few months, she tells him it would be best if he join a club or some sort of after-school activity.

After finding his way into the school theater to check out Drama Club, he literally gets thrust into this new club when Kevin & Blake McQueen, stars of the school’s theater for the past 3 years, give him a task to find ask/find a prop from the backstage crew!

The adventure starts from there when the two of the guys Aziz & Sasha easily begin treating him like part of the crew and give him equipment they need help getting to the rest of the crew: Hunter & Beckett!

He then find himself in magical tunnels that sit just behind the stage door and change randomly! When a large group of “Tool Rats” surround them, Jory does some quick thinking to get them out of the way and save the Backstagers!

He then decides that he wants to join the Backstagers and they easily make him feel welcome! With that, adventures continue as the Jory connects more with the crew and more mysteries are revealed about the magical tunnels.

What made this graphic novel so much fun, was the fact that we get thrust into the story so quickly that we are basically like Jory, very confused in the beginning, but easily falling in love with magic and adventure!

There’s also a lot of diverse representation which was so great, from gay main characters to characters of color (black & Middle-Eastern MC’s/Side-Characters), and Trans rep. (Beckett).

There’s such a seamlessly woven in themes/messages of friendship and acceptance! The crew has such great friendship dynamics and easily got along! Additionally, Jory is unsure if he can even fit in his new school, but after meeting the Backstagers feels much more welcome and included!

The fantasy and magic added into the story was so different and unique, I really loved it! Hoping to get an expansion on it in future volumes, because nearing towards the middle and especially the end, it became quite a larger part to the story!

I also really loved the art-style! Not only was it bright and colorful, but overall it was just a fun art-style that went along great with the story!

I did find some moments to be a little slow paced towards the middle and it would have been great to get more expansion on the darker side of the magic-system when it gets introduced into the story!

The Backstagers follows Jory as he decides to join the Drama Club and easily connects with the backstage crew! Friendship, adventure, and the perfect mix of comedy, are seamlessly woven into this fun + diverse graphic novel that also introduces a unique fantasy element! Cannot wait for Volume 2!

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore ARC Review

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemoreWild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family. 

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Wild Beauty is a lush and wondrous magical realism tale that explores the magic of girls and gardens. With family, love, and identity as the main themes of this story, Anna-Marie’s latest tale will leave you breathless as you uncover the magic and mysteries that surround La Pradera!

When The Moon Was Ours was the first book by Anna-Marie McLemore that I’d ever read. After being immersed into her lyrical tale following Sam & Miel, McLemore easily became one of my favorite authors! Now having finished Wild Beauty, I can’t truly put into words how much I adore her stories! The vibrant tales and writing she weaves together, always leave me captivated!

La Pradera is home to the Nomeolvides women, who for generations have kept the lush garden estate thriving with their ability to conjure the most beautiful flowers all across the property. However with that, their legacy also harbors a curse.

If any of the women find themselves loving ever too deeply, their lovers will vanish. So centering around the cousins Estrella, Dalia, Calla, Azalea, and Gloria, the novel picks up right away when the girls decide to offer a precious belonging to the garden, understanding they are all in love with the same girl, owner of the estate, Bay Briar. Those offerings could perhaps protect her from disappearing too, just like Nomeolvides loves of the past.

Legacy and family were such present themes of Wild Beauty! Estrella begins to question and consider if the curse cast upon current and previous generations of women in her family can ever be broken. With that, this tale explores the expectations and history we bring with us in an effort to perhaps grow and break away from them, but always knowing we will have those to look back on.

The next day, Estrella finds a boy among the flowers, Fel. Though seen as an offering from the garden for Bay’s protection, regardless the cousins, abuelas and aunts take in this mysterious boy and make him a part of their family.

Fel has no memory of how he got to La Pradera, but believes he is in some sort of after-life and must atone for mistakes of his past. Over the course of the novel, as he builds a strong bond with these women he learns more about who he is and why he found himself at the Nomeolvides gardens. I fell in love with the relationship he develops with Estrella, it was written so beautifully~

I truly adored each and every thing of Wild Beauty (´▽`ʃƪ)♥♥ Through McLemore’s vivid and captivating 3rd person narrative, she forges a tale that encapsulates the magic of girls/women, family, love, legacy, and the everyday!

There’s exploration in the strength of family and sisterhood. As Estrella begins learning more about who Fel is, she also finds the bonds between her and her cousins growing so much. She discovers hidden truths of her family and through that we see how brave and determined she is to protect them, no matter the cost.

As for characters I adored every single one and they truly came to life from page 1! No matter how long/when they were introduced on the page, each character goes on their own journey with their growth and change as the tale grows. From Fel with his fierce kindness and loyalty, to Dalia with her determination and her strong-willed judgement to protect not only her family, but her heart as well.

Throughout Wild Beauty, McLemore beautifully explores differing identities of her fantastic characters with gay representation, the girls bisexuality, and Bay being gendeerqueer!

With love being a central theme of this story, McLemore not only explores but uncovers the depths of love, with all its dangers and its necessities. Wild Beauty perfectly captures the journey of the heart one takes in the trial of love and loss. But overall it delivers a powerful and true message that the love in your heart is forever and always valid.

Being Latina myself, I easily connected to not only Estrella and the Nomeolvides women so much, but the wonderfully written Latinx culture McLemore weaved in throughout this magical tale. Additionally, the sisterhood and powerful bonds between the female cousins was something I could definitely relate to!

There is so much I want to say about this novel, but truly cannot put into words. McLemore’s stories always manage to weave there way into the depths of my heart and leave me seeing and wondering in the magic of the everyday!

This novel discusses so much from culture to love, identity, family, sisterhood, and I loved each and every single moment of it!

Wild Beauty is pure magic! Through the lush prose, this novel explores mystery, magic, love and so much more! With a plot that leaves you enchanted, you’ll find yourself immersed into the secret and wonderous world of the Nomeolvides! 🌸🌹🍃✨

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a Wild Beauty Playlist! ✨🎧📚(´▽`ʃƪ)

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn Review

Heroine Complex by Sarah KuhnHeroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex #1)

Publisher: DAW Books

Pages: 378

Release Date: July 5, 2016

Summary: Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Heroine Complex follows Evie Tanaka, assistant to her superhero best-friend Aveda Jupiter! When problems arise, Evie has to take over for Aveda and learns more about herself when she’s tasked with filling in for her best friend. With humor, mystery, and themes of family and friendship, Heroine Complex is a fun and action-packed adventure!

After having read No More Heroes and now Heroine Complex, I’m happy to be getting back into superhero books again!! Heroine Complex book had been on my tbr for some time and I’m so glad I finally read it! It was the perfect mix of comedy, action, and adventure! ❤

Evie Tanaka is the assistant to Aveda Jupiter, San Francisco’s beloved superhero! Both Evie and Avenda have been friends since they were little. Now in their 20’s, they work as part of a team to keep San Francisco safe from demons that take on forms depending on their surroundings.

Told through 1st person POV, we follow Evie as she fills in for Aveda (as she recovers from an injury) one night and finds herself unleashing a super power she’d hoped would have been better left forgotten. Now Evie finds herself taking on a role she never wanted all while helping Aveda’s image with her fans!

What was great about the POV, was the real and comedic voice Evie had! It was great being in her head and reading about her journey on becoming a hero. This also gave so much depth to the characters and plot, it all really came on the page! Aside from that, we better understand the stress she’s put under and how she’s almost hidden in Aveda’s shadow. She is an intelligent, funny, and compassionate person who better understands herself as the novel progresses and it was great to read how much she grew and came to accept who she is.

What I also loved about the writing-style was the fun/superhero vibe it had, which really delivered a perfect atmosphere to the story! 

The group dynamic was one of my favorite parts of this novel! Aside from Aveda and Evie, there’s also Nate, the scientist/healer of the team, Lucy, who joins Evie in assisting during Aveda’s battles with demons, Scott who’s an expert with magic, and Bea Evie’s little sister, who joins the team soon after!

Its clear there’s such a strong bond between Evie and the team, with the humor, banter, and support they offer each other all throughout the story. Just reading Evie build the bonds with her team, especially Aveda and her sister Bea was wonderful to read about.

Throughout the story its clear that Aveda does manipulate + demand Evie to do a lot of tasks for her, it was clear that the Aveda’s demands were beginning to put a lot pressure on Evie, as she struggled to better understand who she was, while not only taking care of Aveda, but her younger sister Bea all by herself. Evie slowly, but surely finds the confidence to forge her own identity and better understand who she is and not only see herself as Aveda’s assistant.

Over the course of Heroine Complex, Evie stand up for herself and calls out Aveda for the toxic behavior she shows in their complex friendship. While they have history and really care for each other, it was great to see Aveda finally understand the manipulative ways of her behavior and see the both of them strengthen their friendship even more as they supported and were there for each other.

It was so great to see diversity in this story! There’s Evie & her sister Bea who are 1/2 Japanese, Aveda who’s Chinese, and Lucy who’s lesbian!

While I’ve seen many YA bloggers talk about this book, I went into this novel not knowing it is  more Adult/NA (but that didn’t bother me, its just something I figured out as I read). So, there is a romantic story line with Evie and another character, with sex, discussions of sex, but it was also great to read that there was also discussion of sex-positivity in this novel!

There was so much to plot, from the demon’s the team must take down, to Evie learning to accept herself and her abilities, growing closer with her team and them growing closer with each other to keep San Francisco safe from the demons and it was great to read Kuhn pack so much into this story!

There was never a dull moment and I loved how many different sides there were of Heroine Complex to tell! It was also great to see the impact of blogging/media on Aveda and her image as a superhero, it was a unique and interesting aspect I enjoyed reading about.

I will admit I did find the pacing to be rather slow, hence the 4-stars and it would have been great to get a little more development on the super powers/demons as they got discussed even more over the course of the story!

Aside from that…

Heroine Complex is a delightful superhero and urban fantasy story! There are strong themes of friendship, family, self-identity, and finding yourself! With so much character and story depth, this action-packed, heroic adventure was such a fun and immersive read!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell Review

The Last Magician by Lisa MaxwellThe Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (TLM #1)

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Pages: 512

Summary: Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past. 

My Rating:★★★☆☆

My Thoughts: The Last Magician mixes fantasy with historical fiction as we follow Esta and her mission to travel back to 1902 to find an ancient book protected by the Order! With the book she will be able to save Mageus, such as herself, in the present and hopefully, future! Maxwell’s novel has elements of fantasy, mystery and adventure to keep you turning the page!

After reading the synopsis, hearing great buzz, and reading such positive reviews, I went into The Last Magician expecting to really enjoy it, sadly that wasn’t the case and I found myself quite disappointed.

While this book wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, there were definitely elements I really enjoyed and the plot itself has me intrigued to read the sequel and see what happens next!

Overall my biggest issue was the writing-style. It felt very flat to me and did more “telling” rather than showing. Because of that, it gave too much of the characters upfront and never really left room for interpretation. With the writing, so much of the characters motivations and personalities were stated so obviously and the writing itself was very direct, so I never really felt connected to any of the characters.

While it was great to also see the story from differing perspectives through the 3rd person POV, the pacing did become extremely slow and because of the writing style, the characters and elements of the story felt very flat to me. I had to put down the book a number of times within the couple weeks I read it, because the pacing and writing never really clicked.

While I found the characters a little difficult to connect to, Maxwell did make the story very character driven which I liked!

There was definitely a fantastical/magical tone that came with the story, though the writing which I liked! I also really enjoyed how the writing flowed well among the multiple POV’s. Being split among 4 parts, I did find parts 1 & 4 to be the most fast paced and immersive!

Time travel is something I enjoy in stories and felt that Maxwell did a great job at easily transitioning the tone of the story from present to early 1900’s and the setting, while very surface level at times, was presented well.

The plot itself left me very invested to see how Esta would be able to find the Ars Arcana, the Book and use it to bring down the Order, an ancient + secret organization that doesn’t like magicians such as herself.  The first chapter really pulled me into the story as the action started right away!

Professor Lachlan, her father-figure and guardian has trained her as a thief to find and protect artifacts used by the Order. So, he instructs her to use her ability to manipulate time to travel to 1902, find the Magician and prevent them from losing the book and ensure she can bring the book back to her time.

Once in the past, we learn more about characters such as Harte Darrigan who wants to find the book as well, but to be able to escape New York and start a new life. There’s also a gang introduced called The Devil’s Own, led by Dolph Saunders who’s crew is made up of Mageus and he’s looking for the book as well.

Esta spends a majority of the book with The Devil’s Own and I couldn’t help but compare the group to the crew in Six Of Crows! While they do have their differences, to be honest there were so many similarities that I picked up on between the characters. I never really found a connection to them, because they felt too much like characters I’d read before.

The magic system in this book was introduced very well and I found the idea of the Brink to be the most interesting aspect. The magical barrier that kept magicians trapped in New York was explored through the multiple POV’s in different ways and I really enjoyed that. But it would have been great to get more background on the magic because many aspects were very surface level.

As Esta becomes more involved with the characters in that time period, she learns more about the Order and how they work in early 1900’s New York and just how much is at stake if she doesn’t find the Book.

Overall this book had a lot of well thought out elements, I just personally found that the execution of the story sadly didn’t really work for me.

The ending did have twists and turns I didn’t expect, but it did feel a little too rushed when all the pieces finally came together. However, I was left very interested to see where the plot would be headed in the sequel!

The Last Magician is an enjoyable historical + urban fantasy novel to check out! While the pacing can be slow at points and the writing a little flat, the story itself has a lot of good elements for an immersive and character-driven tale!

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes ARC Review

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle MilanesThe Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Pages: 400

Summary:Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

*I requested an ARC from the publisher~All thoughts are my own*

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Victoria In My Head is a breath of fresh air in YA Contemporary! Comedic and heartfelt, Milanes’s debut novel weaves in themes of family, friendship, and courage as Victoria’s “treadmill” life becomes a little more interesting when she decides to join a band!

The Victoria In My Head easily became one of my favorite YA Contemporary books of all time + probably the rest of the year! I HIGHLY recommend adding this book your TBR if you haven’t already~

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)♥♥

Told through a humorous + wonderfully written 1st person POV, we follow Victoria Cruz as she starts off another “treadmill” of a day. She’s gotten used to the routine of her daily life: breakfast, school, Cross Country practice, etc.!

Until she sees a cute guy hanging up a poster in the hallway of school. While she is very shy, she makes an on-the-spot decision to check it out & attempts to talk to the guy!  It turns out the mystery guy leaves up a poster for lead vocalist auditions for the band he’s a part of.

After talking it over with her best-friend Annie Lin, who is extremely organized, focused, and not one for spontaneity, she convinces her its probably not a good idea. That is until later that day (b/c of Annie) she gets a spot for an audition and finds the courage to at least check it out!

With that, her life becomes a little more interesting! When she becomes a part of the band, she’s making new friends, band members like Levi (band leader), Strand (the poster guy +guitarist), and Krina (the drummer), learning more about her best friend Annie in the process + tackling first love, + better understanding herself along the way and attempting to try new things.

She has a love for music (collecting vinyls + has an extensive knowledge of rock music) and makes playlists for random moments or things (like stargazing, rainy days, etc.) which I loved reading about (´▽`ʃƪ) Above all, I adored how music was weaved all throughout this novel!

There were so many aspects that I loved about this book! From the spectacular writing + great pacing, diverse cast of characters, to the unique plot, and important themes…the list goes on!

I loved how diverse this cast was! There’s the main character Victoria Cruz + her younger brother who are Cuban-American + of course also her parents who are Cuban! While I may not be Cuban, but being Latinx/ Latina myself, reading from her POV honestly brought me to tears because I related to her so much. She is quite shy +has anxiety (even around her family sometimes), but when she gets comfortable enough around new people/friends can really open up!~

From the food mentioned like platanos, a quincenera being mentioned later on, even to Victoria mentioning in one scene that while parents were speaking Spanish and she commented that her parents joked/assumed she’d never know what they talking about her as though she didn’t know Spanish at all 😂😂 It was moments like that which were just so relatable that I cried tears of joy!! (I loved reading from her POV so much 😭❤️🎶✨!!)

As I mentioned above, it was amazing to read such a diverse YA Contemporary! There’s her best-friend Annie Lin (Chinese), Krina the drummer (Indian + Lesbian), cute-mystery guy Strand (biracial), + Levi, the band leader (Jewish).

There’s also a friendship + f/f relationship that later develops between Annie & Krina.

While I loved all the characters equally, my favorites aside from Victoria, were Annie & Strand!

Victoria’s parents are set on her applying and attending Harvard, that over the course of the novel, its clear that she is overwhelmed with the plan her parents have laid out for her and she isn’t entirely sure of what she wants anymore.

While she is unsure, she fully understands she wants to make her parents proud and understands why they are expecting her do Cross-Country + keep her grades up to make her application as outstanding as possible, because all they want for her is to be successful & happy once she heads to college!

What I also loved (a don’t often see in YA Contemporary) was how involved Victoria’s parents were! They loved her very much and were very protective! While both Victoria and her parents had their reasons for agreeing/disagreeing with each other, I loved how central they were to the story!

While I have read quite a number of YA Contemporary novels, this one truly stands out and has easily taken the top spot of my favorite YA Contemporary book of all time! Its been quite a while that a YA Contemporary has truly stuck with me as much as this one did.

There were a variety of themes + discussions over the course of this novel! Themes of family and independence are truly at the heart of this story.

The Victoria In My Head also has so many positive female friendships + I don’t think once does Victoria think badly of another girl! So often in YA Books there’s girl vs. girl hate, this book had NONE of that!

Victoria does have her preconceived notions of people (guys & girls), but once she gets to know them + considers the differing sides to those people, she is very understanding! She builds new friendships and though she is shy, her friendships with the females were strengthened so much as the story progressed.

There’s also a lot of discussion of sex/sex positivity as the story progressed when Victoria later gets a boyfriend and is navigating her first relationship.

I don’t want to give too much of the book away, but overall I highly recommend adding The Victoria In My Head to your TBR + checking it out on release day! It was a book that went above and beyond my expectations and truly captured my heart ❤️🎶

Overall, I’m so grateful to have been able to read/review an early copy of this novel and spread the word about The Victoria In My Head so other Latinx & especially Cuban/Cuban-American readers can relate to Victoria as much as I did!

The Victoria In My Head is a spectacular coming-of-age story! With a dynamic + diverse cast of characters, hilarious + comedic moments, phenomenal plot, fantastic writing, and so much more, this music-filled debut follows Victoria Cruz and the courage she gains to follow her heart!