A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi Review

A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani ChokshiA Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Pages: 369

Summary: An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Chokshi deliver’s a magical tale with lush and vivid writing, fascinating characters, rich and wondrous settings, and a plot that will have you captivated from start to finish!

Going into ACOW, I was unsure of what to expect, because while I really enjoyed TSTQ there were a few issues that kept it from being a 5!

However once I started A Crown Of Wishes, I knew it would be a fantastic read! This book went above and beyond my expectations!

Being a companion to The Star-Touched Queen it doesn’t necessarily spoil a lot, however there are references throughout!

The plot follows Gauri, warrior princess of Bharata who wants to reclaim her throne and Vikram, the Fox Prince who seeks to be more than the “Puppet King” he is assumed to become. They team up to compete in the Tournament of Wishes, finding their way to Alaka and completing 3 tasks in order to win a wish!

Vikram in need of a partner in order to compete decides that Gauri, currently a prisoner in his kingdom of Ujijain, will be perfect!

Though they don’t get along at first and bicker along their journey, they learn to understand each other and forge a friendship/relationship that encourages them to bring out the best in each other!

While I found myself captivated by both Gauri and Vikram separately, I adored their interactions and their overall dynamic was superbly written!

There are elements of romance and Chokshi did it magnificently! It really flowed well with the pacing of the story and overall was beautifully written!

Told through Gauri’s 1st person POV and Vikram’s 3rd person POV, we get an in depth look at their past and how the outcome of this tournament can change their lives for the better. While their focus remains a central part of their story, Chokshi’s writing really paints the complexities of their emotions and inner struggles they must face.

Chokshi really highlights the flaws or obstacles these characters encounter and makes their journey of overcoming them and accomplishing their goals a major part of their development! Both major and side characters have complexity to them that unravels and gets revealed as the story unfolds!

The plot itself goes in directions I wasn’t expecting and I loved every moment of it! Flashbacks that appear, really became an integral part of the characters stories and their development!

There were so many themes and messages of independence, acceptance, personal growth…the list can go on! The characters are definitely not the same once you finish the novel and it shows from the journey they undergo in A Crown Of Wishes!

A big message I found throughout this novel that really built into the story as Vikram and Gauri find themselves in the Tournament Of Wishes, was that their actions or decisions influence more than just themselves! It really brought an aura of mystery and suspense as the plot unfolds!

No major spoilers but, I adored the ending and how it wrapped up! With how the story develops I felt truly satisfied with the ending! I adored it so much!

My only minor issue was slow pacing towards the end! However the plot really drives the story forward and wasn’t really a bother because I was just so invested in the story!

A Crown Of Wishes melds Indian folklore and mythology and is weaved all throughout! The characters, plot and world come to life through Chokshi’s magical and captivating writing-style! Vikram and Gauri’s journey to obtain their wish is filled with action, adventure, witty banter, and so much more!

This book will leave you enchanted! Highly recommend!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner Review

Hunted by Meagan SpoonerHunted by Meagan Spooner

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Pages: 384

Summary: Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Spooner delivers a magical and captivating Russian-inspired Beauty & The Beast Retelling! With vivid characters, themes of sisterhood and family, immersive plot and rich world, you will be enchanted!

Told through a 3rd person POV, we follow Yeva (the Beauty) and the journey she undergoes when her family (Her sisters & father) loses their fortune! Forced to move to their old cabin in the woods, they must adjust to their new life.

However, when their father gets lost in the woods (presumably searching for the Beast), Yeva sets out to rescue him! As the story progresses she finds herself in Beast’s castle and learns more about herself and the magic that lies deep in the woods.

The characters were wonderfully written! While it may seem that this is a very romance-heavy novel, it really isn’t! It focuses so much on the characters and their development.

Spooner really showed the bonds that the sisters (Yeva+Asenka + Lena) have with each other and no matter what tragedies or trials they face along the way, they are always there to help and support each other! No jealousies or rivalries. Just sisterly love/support and I loved that so much! ❤ ❤

Even the male characters, who show feelings for some of the sisters don’t have romance as a central part of their story. They help the sisters and stick by them.

Each character was crafted wonderfully! There was never a character trait/motive that felt out of place or dragged the story. They all remained focused and nothing they did ever felt out of character!

Yeva was my favorite! She longs for freedom and wants to seek out more for herself and her life! While she may be eager to seek out the magic of her world on her own, she always puts others happiness first before her own! ❤

The world, while setting wise could have used a little more description, was very well constructed and the Russian-Folklore elements weaved perfectly into the story!

While reading, this story felt magical and I loved that!

Above all, a lot of fantastic elements to a fantastic retelling!

However, my only issue was towards the 50% mark or so, the story felt like it slowed down for me personally. For the rest of the novel, I was powering through. Not that I didn’t enjoy it…I really did! It just felt that once the story progressed and Yeva finds herself back home, the rest of the story’s pacing felt very slow.

Aside from that, as for the plot while I’m very familiar with the tale, I loved Spooner’s retelling and found myself surprised along the way! Overall the originality and surprises of this tale, kept me turning the page!

Spooner delivers a magical that puts emphasis on characters and their development! With magic weaved throughout each page, you will find yourself captivated Russian-Inspired retelling of Beauty & The Beast!
Spooner’s tale is spellbinding, bringing a wholly original take to a classic fairy tale!

Literary Listens: YA Books That Need Podcast Adaptations

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerLiterary Listens is my newest blog series/feature where I discuss podcasts & books!

Check out my most recent feature, which was “Podcast Recommendations For Writers.

This week’s post is all about “adaptations”–in a way.

I’ll be sharing with you YA Books that I’ve read, that would translate very well to audio and should have their own audio drama podcasts!

~Every now and again on Twitter, I update with my latest podcast obsession I’ve caught up with! 😂😂

While I am by no means an expert, I have listened to quite a few “Audio Drama Podcasts.” The easiest way I can explain them are, essentially stories/overarching plots (like that of a novel) told episodically through audio.

What makes them so unique compared to other mediums is that because its told through sound (sfx, voice actor/actress, etc.) everyone’s interpenetration of characters/setting can be vastly different and the episodic format of podcasts can give you an in-depth perspective on the story being told!

Now onto the list of YA Books that would make a great transition from page to audio!

six-crows-leigh-bardugo-cover1.Six Of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

The Six Of Crows duology has such a fascinating and rich world from the bustling streets of Ketterdam to the wonderfully written characters like Kaz Brekker, Inej Ghafa, and the other members of the Dregs! 

~Add in the high stakes and expansion of the world further developed in Crooked Kingdom and it would make for quite a series!

Bardugo is a master at crafting characters, descriptions and dialogue that’s witty, clever and creates such an atmosphere! If this were to ever happen and the right voice actors were found, it would truly bring her world to life through a podcast!

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore2.When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

McLemore creates such vivid and unforgettable characters and through her magical writing, it delivers such a rich and magical story!

Through her lush writing style, the Latinx folklore, magical realism, and important themes and messages weaved throughout would translate perfectly!

Crafting such a magical and memorable story When The Moon Was Oursif it were to be adapted as a podcast, would be a captivating one!

This Savage Song July 53.This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (TSS #1)

The uniqueness and creativity of Schwab’s worlds, especially in This Savage Song would make for such a compelling podcast! 

Through audio, the characters of Kate Harker & August Flynn would really be at the center, with the depth and emotion that Schwab brings to them in the novel a driving force, if this were to become a podcast!

~Just picture each chapter in their POV like one episode! Each chapter of the story could translate to one episode of them…recording their thoughts or relaying them through a diary??

Plus the city of Verity itself is dark yet has so much mystery that it would interesting to see unfold through a podcast! Even with its monsters like the Sunai, Corsai, and Malchai!

97800623807534.The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (TGFE #1)

What I adored about Heilig’s novel The Girl From Everywhere, was not only the rich history weaved throughout, but the overall originality of the plot!

16th Century Hawaii + Ships + Maps that can take you anywhere in time? Wouldn’t that be just beyond amazing for audio?? ❤ ❤

There are so many important themes such as family, friendship and finding yourself found all through out the story. Additionally there’s a great + diverse cast of characters! (character who’s bipolar, characters of color- 1/2 Chinese, Persian)

The beautiful imagery/description of setting that Heilig weaves into her story I feel would also translate seamlessly!

With the fascinating plot, diversity and important themes, The Girl From Everywhere would make such a magnificent audio drama podcast!

wintersong-by-s-jae-jones5.Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong was an enchanting tale! Along with the gorgeous writing, dazzling setting and fascinating characters, Jones’s story could really be brought to life through audio! (Like the Underground and Goblin Grove!)

~Music is a big factor in this story and as a podcast, would add even more!

Through Liesl’s elegantly-constructed POV, it would really transport the listener and bring the enchanting world to life!

Do you think these YA Books would make interesting audio drama podcasts?

Any YA Books you think would be great as podcasts?

Let’s Discuss In The Comments Below! 🙂

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker Review

The Golem And The JinniThe Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker (The Golem & The Jinni #1)

Publisher: Harper

Release Date: April 23, 2013

Pages: 486

Summary: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Golem And The Jinni is a wondrous story filled with such in-depth characters, fascinating world-building, and a magical plot that will leave you captivated long after the final page!

Originally on my Goodreads review I rated it 4.5 stars, but honestly I’d spent maybe a month or so reading this book (which I’d been wanting to read for years now! ❤ ) and now that I’ve finished, this story truly a masterpiece and I felt it deserved a full 5. Aside from a minor issue (mentioned later in my review), The Golem And The Jinni is a tale I’ll never forget!

I don’t usually mention my “reading experience,” but that’s definitely another aspect that made me love this book so much. No matter where I stopped, I was immediately thrust back into the magical world of The Golem And The Jinni whenever I picked it back up! ❤ ❤

*~While I mostly read/review Young Adult, note that The Golem And The Jinni is an Adult book!~*

There were so many incredible aspects of this book I’ll try my best to explain them all.

Firstly, the plot. It was beyond amazing~ It follows Chava who is a Golem (creature made of clay) and her beginnings as she is created for Otto Rotfeld, who wants a wife. But her husband falls ill on their ship voyage to New York and passes away.

A Golem itself is also created to follow the desires/wishes of its master, however now that her husband Otto Rotfeld has passed, the desires/thoughts of people around her begin to invade her mind and she is unsure of what to do as she tries to better understand herself and navigate this world alone.

Then there’s the Ahmad the Jinni. He finds himself in a tinsmith’s shop in New York and realizes he’s been trapped in a flask for thousands of years. He does have gaps in his memory, but remembers for sure that there was a wizard who trapped him. All he wishes for is freedom.

These magical creatures are now understanding who they are and where they fit, in this new world.

As for other elements of the story (like plot) I don’t think I’ll go too much in depth, because I feel this a tale you really need experience for yourself without much background. But, I will mention the basics and a few specific elements that I really loved!

The writing (3rd person POV) is very descriptive and creates a magical atmosphere which immediately draws you into the story. There is a lot of description of food, setting/nature, that the setting feels rich and immersive.

There are multiple POV’s however, Wecker does a masterful job at making them distinct, really letting you understand each and every character with such depth that they feel so real throughout the story!

The story weaves together phenomenally which is shown masterfully through the differing POV’s.

At its heart, this tale is about finding yourself and understanding who you want to be. I loved that theme of self-discovery was weaved all throughout the story.

The diversity was fantastic! There’s mainly a Syrian and Jewish cast of characters and an array of ages among them.

I adored the world-building! There’s so much detail put into the differing neighborhoods, buildings and architecture. Additionally, I found each character lends a unique scope to the world-building as well, which truly made the settings come to life.

While reading I could really picture the wear and tear of the apartment buildings, the baked goods, the sunsets, bustle of city life…everything! Being able to really envision these little details really transported me.

Magic weaves with history and religion as this tale, which fuses both Jewish and Arabic folklore, unfolds.

The female friendships in this book were fantastic! While a problem or two arises along the way, they show support and care for each other no matter what!

I suppose my only minor issue pacing with some moments throughout the POV’s where it is rather slow.

The Golem And The Jinni is a captivating & atmospheric tale that melds history with fantasy. Filled with compelling characters, themes of family, friendship, and a dazzling setting, this is not a tale to miss!✨

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour Review

we-are-okay-by-nina-lacourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 234

Summary:Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: We Are Okay is a beautifully crafted story which journeys Marin as she encounters grief and solitude coming to terms with events of her past! 

LaCour’s writing-style is what made We Are Okay a captivating read. Her writing style brings out facets of Marin (emotionally) that drives the novel throughout.

While the plot is there, its mainly the emotion evoked through the 1st person POV of Marin that brings a unique aspect to this YA Contemporary!

Told through present and past chapters, Marin recollects on what led her to leave those she loves behind before her 1st year of college. With each and every line, I could feel the loneliness and grief that Marin carried with her!

Additionally, reading from her POV brought such depth and life to the characters, like Hannah, Mabel and her grandfather.

Reading about the loss Marin goes through was difficult at times, because with each page we understood just how alone she felt. However throughout the novel, we learn more about those from her past and that she has a great support system behind her and slowly but surely can find hope.

Because We Are Okay follows Marin in a unique + emotional head-space,  the novel does slow at some points (hence the 4.5) but it gives such insight into her true feelings and emotions which really makes this novel captivating.

There is not only GLBT+, but also Mexican representation which was great!

LaCour also weaves themes of family and friendship which are heavily discussed and explored throughout.

Marin’s struggles and difficulties with opening up to friends and establishing stronger ties with those friends was something I could see in myself. It’s never easy, but reading that Mabel did all she could to reconnect with Marin, was beautiful!!

Marin was a very soft-spoken character (at least from my perspective) and I found that so relatable. There is so much that she considers and ponders in her head, but when putting those thoughts into words, she finds it difficult!

I loved Mabel and Marin’s relationship! It does have its complications, but they have so much history that their friendship and love for each other is clearly seen in the story. They want the best for one another regardless of what happened in the past. There is so much girl-power that I found throughout We Are Okay! Just girls supporting each other through their darkest + emotional moments in life.

Setting was painted so beautifully. I could picture the New York snow and the California beaches as more than just locations in a story,but moments in time and with emotion + atmosphere (both dark and hopeful) that was only possible through Marin’s POV.

As stated above I adored this novel, however because of the way we follow Marin’s POV, the story did slow at times for me.

We Are Okay captures grief, hope, forgiveness, friendship and family.  Through an elegantly crafted writing-style, emotion and atmosphere capture the tone of this novel and drive the story forward as we follow Marin who finds hope in her darkest times!

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones Playlist

Wintersong PlaylistToday’s Reading Playlist is inspired by S. Jae-Jones Wintersong! ❄️✨🎧

I read this book earlier in March + have a full book review if you’re interested which you can check out Here!

This book was an enchanting tale I absolutely loved and while reading, I listened to tracks that had a whimsical, but classical theme to them!

Tracks featured in today’s playlist are from Final Fantasy XV!

Hope you enjoy! + Let me know your thoughts on this playlist in the comments below! 😀 ❤

 

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Review

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Cover Reveal 2017Empress Of A Thousand Skies (Empress #1)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 314

Summary: CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Belleza delivers a character driven sci-fi space opera that discusses very timely issues + politics as a princess + a tv celebrity find themselves on the run!

Empress had so many great elements! It was very plot + character driven and had little to no romance for most of the novel.

Being told through dual POV (3rd person) and it worked extremely well for this story! Because both characters aren’t exactly together for most of the novel, we get to see the politics, culture, etc. of the unique worlds from differing perspectives.

Aly, due to his Wraetan background is seen as different by others and fears if he is to do anything to damage his reputation while on TV, it would look bad for all Wraetans. Reading that made me feel so bad for Aly (with all the pressure upon his shoulders). Reading from his POV brought up very relevant and timely issues one could mirror to our own world that is sadly still seen today, how there are those out there who aren’t as accepting when they view people from other cultures and see them only as “different.” Which is so wrong!

Through Aly’s POV we see that just because he is Wraetan, he is framed from Rhee’s assassination.

Aly really goes into depth about his war-torn home and the struggles he’s faced to get to where he is. I loved the expansion on this subject, not only because it mirrors our own and gives perspective, but it shows how wrong/harmful these ideas are and can be.

As with Rhee, she flees her home planet after she nearly escapes an assassination attempt on her own life. She finds herself charting across different planets to track down who she suspects is behind her assassination and reclaim her throne!

She was very determined and came up with plans, however usually hesitated when the moments to enact her revenge finally came. With this all suddenly upon her, it would make sense that she would have her reasons for hesitation. Regardless, while she does make mistakes, she grows and no matter what happened along the way, she stayed true to herself and her goal. She never strayed away from it!

My heart broke reading what he had faced! I loved reading from both POV’s however Aly’s was definitely my favorite! Aly lost his family, his home, faced discrimination but no matter what, he kept pushing forward and never gave up fighting to clear his name.

From what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure there is a sequel! So I’m hoping with the next one, Rhee, Aly and the other characters introduced are given even more background and development, because there was so much mystery surrounding these characters.

I loved the unique aspects that Belleza was able to weave into this story, from the memory cube technology to the unique creatures found across the planets.

Additionally, a majority of the cast of characters were people of color, which is amazing!! I’m always happy to read a book with a diverse cast!! ❤

For the plot as a whole, I was kept surprised with each and every page! I could never guess where the story was headed which I adored, because it kept me invested from start to finish!

As for the pacing it was rather slow for me, however the mysteries that unfold had me turning the page to figure out who was behind it all!

As mentioned + introduced above, Belleza continued to discuss very timely issues such as immigration, politics, views on technology & privacy + so much more!

That is an aspect I loved so much about Empress! She really makes them an integral part of the plot and overall themes of the novel that really have you thinking all through out the entire story.

Additionally, there are so many layers to the story as a whole. Essentially, from Rhee’s perspective you learn there is a treaty in place and while it made the worlds stable when Rhee’s father established it, there’s still discrimination and tension between the planets.

Now as to why it wasn’t a full 5-stars:

First off I will admit, the summary was a little misleading for me, because going into the book I assumed Rhiannon + Aly would be together for most of the novel, however that wasn’t the case which is what I was expecting.

There were some moments I wish the worlds themselves were fleshed out a little more, while a lot of social issues are brought up within each world and discussed when Aly or Rhee visit them, in terms of descriptions + atmosphere I wanted a little more!

Empress Of A Thousand Skies is a thought-provoking story which takes the time to discuss very timely issues, introduces multi-layered politics and world-building, puts characters and plot at the center, and overall delivers a refreshing and unique tale in YA Sci-Fi!