A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen ARC Review

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael AllenA Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: January 9, 2017

Pages: 336

Summary:The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . .something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

*Received an ARC from Barnes & Noble B-Fest*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Taxonomy Of Love is a plot-driven + complex YA Contemporary that brings such depth to its main characters and weaves in numerous themes of grief, loss, friendship, love and family. The unique format + expansive timeline that unravels, really make Allen’s A Taxonomy Of Love stand out!

What really stayed with me after I finished A Taxonomy Of Love was the writing and how it allowed me to really connect to the main character, Spencer Barton.

Not only was it refreshing to read a YA Contemporary from a male POV, but I’d also never read about a main character with Tourettes before.

A Taxonomy Of Love follows Spencer at 13 up until 19 yrs old as we follow his life and unforgettable friendship with his new neighbor Hope Birdsong.

From their friendship as 13-year olds in middle school, journey through high school, etc. I loved being able to follow these characters through the ups and downs of their life across a wide timeline.

A Taxonomy Of Love really stood out to me because of how its told. Not only through the engaging 1st person POV, but also through the 6-year timeline. For a standalone, I feel that can’t be easy, but Allen executed it in such a way, where it all flowed well and you really see the progression and growth of the main character Spencer.

There are also illustrations of Taxonomies that allow Spencer to make sense of new situations + the world, but also the in-between chapters with letters and messages from Hope. These additions really added more to the story and allowed me to learn a different side to these characters.

The story starts when Spencer meets Hope at 13 when she moves in next door and become friends almost instantly. However misunderstandings arise when its clear they both have feelings for one another but can’t seem to find their way to each other.

Then tragedy strikes Hope and her family when her older sister Janie passes away. We see how they slowly begin to grow apart. Spencer + Hope find their friendship slowly fading away as the years go by. Misunderstandings and misfortune keep them unsure if they’ll ever really reconnect with each other.

Now as to why I rated this book 3.5 stars, my biggest issue was that the time-jumps. It never felt like I got to fully know these characters (aside from Spencer) or feel extremely connected to the story itself because it felt plot points and development would be rushed through. I also felt it dragged particularly through uneventful or average everyday events if that makes sense?

Even when important themes of love, loss and social issues (such as racism) are discussed, the abruptness of the chapters + various time-jumps made it really difficult for me to really feel connected to these important story elements.

As for the diversity represented in this novel, as I mentioned before we have the main character Spencer Barton who has Tourettes + Jayla, Spencer’s girlfriend, who is black. There is also light discussion of mental health, when the passing of Hope’s sister is mentioned and she talks about going to a support group + when Spencer begins medication that helps with his Tourettes. (Though I can’t personally say whether Tourettes was accurately represented, overall it was great to see that represented in YA! + Ablesit language was challenged~)

Not only did I read how Spencer’s Tourettes influenced his life and impacted his confidence (as he mentioned people bullied him when he was younger), but also that friends, such as Hope would give him the patience and support he needed. Throughout the novel its clear that Spencer has friends, family, and people in his life who will support + understand him.

Overall it was also great to see him gain so much confidence in himself and learn to navigate and better understand the complex friendships + relationships in his life, throughout those 6 years. He grew so much as a character and I found myself rooting for him & Hope!

An aspect of this novel that I really loved was the various messages Allen weaved into the story. There’s grief, family, independence and friendship that are such important themes throughout the story as we follow Spencer and Hope’s story. Not only were they portrayed pretty well, but they really stuck with me as I progressed through the story.

There was also illustrations of taxonomies that just add more to the story itself and letters from Hope that really allow her to come to life.

A Taxonomy Of Love is a complex YA Contemporary that spans across a rather big timeline as we follow Spencer + Hope and their complicated, but powerful relationship. Important themes of love, loss, and growth weave their way into the story. Allen’s writing really brings such depth to the main character of Spencer and brings his story to life!

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Latinx YA Book Releases To Add To Your TBR {2018}

Latinx YA Book ReleasesToday on the blog, I’m so happy to share with you upcoming 2018 YA Books that feat. Latinx characters or are by Latinx authors that I’m really looking forward to reading + ones to add to your TBR!!

Being Latina myself, its just so amazing + inspiring (not only being an avid YA reader + aspiring author) to see so many upcoming YA Books from Latinx authors 😍✨📚

The list will be split up by genre/category + release date/pages (if available) & publisher!(Note: Dates may be subject to change)

I did my best to compile a list of as many as I could, but if there were any I happened to miss, please feel free to comment so others can know about it too!

Contemporary

1.The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos (Feb. 1, 2018, Carolrhoda Books, 344 Pages)

Summary: Macy’s school officially classifies her as “disturbed,” but Macy isn’t interested in how others define her. She’s got more pressing problems: her mom can’t move off the couch, her dad’s in prison, her brother’s been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn’t speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms—complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that’s both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can’t tell her incarcerated father that her mom’s cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy’s machete.

2. Flight Season by Marie Marquardt (Feb. 20, Wednesday Books, 352 Pages)

Summary:Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.

As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.

3.The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6, HarperTeen, 368 Pages) 

Summary: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

4. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (May 8, Razorbill, 272 Pages)

Summary: Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

5.Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro (May 22, Tor Teen, 384 Pages)

Summary: A story of resilience and loss, love and family, Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift testifies to the vulnerability and strength of a community living within a system of oppression.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift. 

6.The Fall Of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez (June 12, Philomel Books, 448 pages) *Today, Jen from PopGoesTheReader just featured The Fall Of Innocence Cover Reveal!

Summary:For the past eight years, sixteen-year-old Emilia DeJesus has done her best to move on from the traumatic attack she suffered in the woods behind her elementary school. She’s forced down the memories–the feeling of the twigs cracking beneath her, choking on her own blood, unable to scream. Most of all, she’s tried to forget about Jeremy Lance, the boy responsible, the boy who caused her such pain. Emilia believes that the crows who watched over her that day, who helped her survive, are still on her side, encouraging her to live fully. And with the love and support of her mother, brother, and her caring boyfriend, Emilia is doing just that.

But when a startling discovery about her attacker’s identity comes to light, and the memories of that day break through the mental box in which she’d shut them away, Emilia is forced to confront her new reality and make sense of shifting truths about her past, her family, and herself.

A compulsively-readable tragedy that reminds us of the fragility of human nature.

7. Brief Chronicle Of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid (TBA 2018, Harlequin Teen)

Summary:The summer after senior year is not going as eighteen-year-old Lu Charles expected: after her longtime boyfriend unexpectedly breaks up with her, she finds herself unable to write her relationships column for Misnomer, the popular e-zine that feels so central to her identity. Then, she meets Cal, a handsome, charming and decidedly un-single stranger. Or is he?

Cal’s ever-practical girlfriend Iris is looking ahead to her first year of college, and her plans do not include a long-distance boyfriend. When Lu learns that Cal and Iris have planned to end their relationship at the end of the summer, she becomes fascinated and decides to chronicle the last months the couple will spend rogether. But the closer she gets to both of them, the harder it becomes to untangle her own feelings toward Cal from the story she’s writing. When Lu’s ex-boyfriend Leo unexpectedly comes back into the picture, Lu will have to decide what she wants—and from whom—or risk losing it all.

Fantasy

1.Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez (June 5, Imprint, 448 Pages)

Summary: Not you without me, not me without you.
Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

2.The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera (The Tiger’s Daughter #2) (August 28, Tor Books, 400 Pages)

Summary:The Phoenix Empress, the sequel to K Arsenault Rivera’ the wildly buzzed about The Tiger’s Daughter, an epic historical fantasy in the vein of Patrick Rothfuss and Naomi Novik.

Since she was a child, the divine empress O Shizuka has believed she was an untouchable god. When her uncle, ruler of the Hokkaran Empire, sends her on a suicide mission as a leader of the Imperial Army, the horrors of war cause her to question everything she knows.

Thousands of miles away, the exiled and cursed warrior Barsalyya Shefali undergoes trials the most superstitious would not believe in order to return to Hokkaran court and claim her rightful place next to O Shizuka.

As the distance between disgraced empress and blighted warrior narrows, a familiar demonic force grows closer to the heart of the empire. Will the two fallen warriors be able to protect their home? 

Dystopia

1. Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera (August 21, Simon Schuster BYR, 352 Pages)

*Note: I double-checked not only Rivera’s twitter + the publishers website & Dealing In Dreams is set to be out in 2019! Apologies~

Summary: At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Sixteen-year-old Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throwdowns and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but Nalah quickly grows weary of her questionable lifestyle. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega Towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search of the mysterious gang the Ashé Riders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles crews and her own doubts but the closer she gets to her goal the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone—she cares about.

Nalah must choose whether or not she’s willing to do the unspeakable to get what she wants. Can she discover that home is not where you live but whom you chose to protect before she loses the family she’s created for good?

Graphic Novels

1. Moonstruck Vol. 1 by Grace Ellis, Shea Beagle + Kate Leth (Artists) (March 27, Image Comics, 120 Pages)

Summary: Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late. (*Features Latinx characters, not by Latinx authors)

Magical Realism

1.Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore (Oct. 9, Feiwel & Friends, 320 Pages)

Summary: A magical realist Snow-White & Rose-Red meets Swan Lake, in which two sisters become rivals in a game that will turn the losing girl into a swan. 

Urban Fantasy

1. Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova (Brooklyn Brujas #2) (June 5, Sourcebooks Fire, 352 Pages)

Summary:Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

Latinx YA Books 2018

What Latinx YA Books are you looking forward to? 😄🎉📚📚

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 🙂

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes Review

The Arsonist by Stephanie OakesThe Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Publisher: Dial Books (PenguinTeen)

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Pages: 493

Summary:It starts with a fire. A diary. A murder.

Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, she doesn’t believe that her mother killed herself three years ago. And since her father is about to be executed for his crimes, Molly is convinced that her mother will return to her soon. Finally, the hole in her heart will stop hurting.

Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with serious girl problems and the most embarrassing seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer…or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly and Pepper are tasked with finding Ava’s murderer, they realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Arsonist is a thriller, mystery, historical-fiction, and coming of age all in one! With such depth to the main characters, threads of mystery that weave together so perfectly, and surprises at every turn, Oakes novel will have you immersed in this brilliantly crafted story! 

Having been such a huge fan of Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly, I knew I wouldn’t miss out on her upcoming books! Though while this one has a lesser rating compared to her 1st book, I still really loved it and had such a fun time reading it!

We follow 3 differing POV’s that all end up weaving together in such a way, you don’t expect! I know as I saw all the pieces coming together, I found the twists and turns of the story to be so well done and left me surprised!

Told through essays (Pepper), letters (Molly), and diary entries (Ava), the story unfolds in such a unique and interesting way!

Starting with Molly Mavity, she’s somewhat of an outcast at school and knows she’ll never really fit in. Her father is a convicted arsonist and currently in jail and as for her mother, is dead. But Molly believes she’s still out there somewhere and is waiting for her return.

Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef is just trying to graduate high school, so he’s given an assignment by his counselor to write essays about each of his classes.

And Ava Dreyman, a girl living in East Germany who, along with her family resist the Stasi rule and hope to one day be free of the Berlin Wall.

Molly and Pepper soon team up when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of what happened to Ava Dreyman.

They find themselves reading her diary titled The Arsonist, visiting people from Ava’s past, traveling to Berlin, and forging a complex friendship along the way.

What I loved about Pepper & Molly so much, was the complex but underlying strong friendship that forges between them as they try to solve the mystery. While Pepper later admits he could possibly imagine a nice relationship between them, he also states their friendship was so much more important and I loved that!

Its clear throughout the novel, that they both feel pretty lonely and really want someone to connect to, feeling like they don’t really belong. Seeing just how alike they are through their POV and seeing them slowly forge their friendship was so beautiful!

Through Ava’s POV we see just how independent and brave she is, when she’s forced to leave her home in East Germany to avoid the Stasi from capturing her. She grows and undergoes so much pain and betrayal when she must leave her family and her home behind. While I loved each of the POV’s equally, her’s was just filled with so much pain and heartache that you just feel so connected to her story and want to see her be reunited with those she loves and be free.

We also get so much depth to her as we see how these traumatic events from her being forced to flee her home, to seeing her members of her family put in danger & even killed, to the betrayal she endures and how it just causes her to become a shadow of who she once was.

I wish I could put into words the complexity of the story, but truly can’t. There’s just so many brilliant points that bring these characters together in ways you just don’t see coming!

What I found made me difficult to truly rate this book a 5, was the writing-style. While I loved that it truly gave you such depth into each of the characters minds and their personalities, I couldn’t help but feel that other aspects fell a bit short. From the setting descriptions to some side characters, they weren’t given as much depth as I would have hoped, which did make it a bit difficult to truly immerse myself in this book. Additionally, the story does get slow paced throughout and due to its length did drag a little bit at some points.

Aside from that, what the writing-style brings that really makes the book stand out and truly shine, is the uniqueness of each POV and how its just brilliantly executed.

There were definitely a few side characters that I felt truly were given such depth and you felt you really knew them by the end of this novel. To start with, Pepper’s father, as we learn what brought him to the U.S. and the heartache he also endures with the loss of his wife, Lido, a friend Ava makes who allows her to find hope again when she finds herself mistakenly put into a mental institution, and Heinrich Werner, a Stasi officer who is in charge of eliminating those who rebel against current republic or attempt to flee.

Overall I highly recommend this book if your looking for a unique mystery that really delivers complex and interesting characters, while keeping you putting pieces together till the very end!

The Arsonist is a uniquely woven tale that brings in mystery, coming-of-age, historical fiction, as you follow 3 distinct POV’s that bring to life such unique and memorable main characters! With such deep underlying messages about family, fighting for what you believe, and the depths of love and loss, Oakes The Arsonist, is not one to miss!

Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage Review

Anchors & Vacancies by Kat SavageAnchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Release Date: June 30, 2016

Pages: 50

Summary: Anchors & Vacancies is a 45 piece series originally titled “Left Atrium Anchors & Right Ventricle Vacancies” written in late 2014 and early 2015. It’s all the things we all hold onto, all the things we let anchor onto us, and all the things that leave us vacant.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Anchors & Vacancies is a poetry collection which tackles the depth of heartbreak! The writing delivers such raw emotion as we follow a journey of heartbreak, loss + longing, and acceptance!

Ever year now, since about 2016 I’ve made it a tradition to have my first read of the year be a poetry book! They’re not only short and quick reads, but in general just always feel like the perfect reads to start off a new year!

Anchors & Vacancies had a fascinating summary and shortly after, made its way to my TBR about early last year. I bought myself a copy around March, but sadly never got around to it. Keeping that in mind, I knew this would be one of my first reads of 2018!

Savage portrays such deep emotion and the impact of loss through her words and it shows with each poem.

“There’s a certain kind of ache in the chambers of my heart…”

Told through 45 poems, we follow a journey through the trials of a love lost and how it impacts when one finds it difficult to let go.

While I could really understand and follow the complex web of emotion through each of the poems, aside from a few, many sadly just didn’t really connect or click with me on a personal level which made it difficult for me to find myself really immersed in some of the poems.

However regardless of that, I will definitely continue to read more of her work, because I really did enjoy her writing-style & found it to flow so well. She delivered such a complex stream of emotion with each poem!

Anchors & Vacancies is a raw and impactful collection of poetry that illustrates a love that has been lost and the journey one takes to heal!

Highly recommend this if your looking for a new poetry book to read! 📚✨❤

Book Blog Discussion: 2017 Wrap-Up

Happy Holidays!! 😄🎄🎉 Wow 2017 really flew by and I can’t believe 2018 is actually here already!~

This past year really was big for me both personally and for my reading/book blogging~

So today I’ll be sharing some bookish stats/accomplishments with you about reading, book blogging, etc. that I reached in 2017!

1.Books Read In 2017

Originally I planned to set a goal for at least 15 books (mentioned in my 2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals} post)

Its a pretty reasonable goal I’m planning to set for myself each year and I’m happy to have accomplished it by completing:

72 Books 🎉📚📚

There were so many fantastic books I read this year! Ones that took me on grand adventures, made me cry, smile, etc.! While there are more to add to this list, here are just some of the 2017 books that truly stuck with me throughout the year or whenever I read them + are ones that constantly come to mind, when I think about my 2017 reading as a whole! These books are ones that truly captured my heart & I hope, if you haven’t read them, my reviews inspire you to pick them up too:

wintersong-by-s-jae-jonesWintersong by S. Jae Jones

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker

A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Full Book Review To Come)

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Also mentioned in my 2017 Bookish Goals post, I really wanted to make more of an effort to read more diversely and just promote diverse books more!

With that said out of the 72 books I read, 31 of them were either written by authors of color or #OwnVoices books!

I know I can definitely push myself to read even more diversely in 2018 & really want to continue to do so! I already have back-list 2017 titles from #OwnVoices or authors of color I cannot wait to read 😄📚✨💕~

2.Book Blogging Accomplishments

In the 2 years I started 24hrYABookBlog, I never expected to make new friends and just have my blog grow to where it is now!

I’m so grateful to have gotten to know and even meet such inspiring book bloggers  through social media/blogging or even in person through book events!

That has definitely been one of the highlights of 2017! 😍💕📚

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-banner3.Blog Features

One of my newest and most favorite blog features I expanded on in 2017 was Literary Listens! If you’ve never read/heard of it, its basically a blog feature where I discuss books and podcasts! 😍🎙📚

Its a blog feature I always have so much fun writing for and definitely hope to continue with it, this new year!

I also drafted new blog features around the last few months of the year & I hope to share them in the coming months!

4.Misc. Bookish Accomplishments

There were such memorable bookish accomplishments I achieved in 2017! Some were unexpected & took me completely by surprise!

~Creating my very 1st Bookish Vlog (for Yallwest)/ Doing my very first interviews with authors! 😭💕📚📹

~Adding more books to my ARC collections! ( One definitely includes Rebel Of The Sands)

~Holding my first ARC Giveaway 

~Being contacted by a publisher to review a finished copy of an anticipated book release

~Getting my first package of unsolicited books from publishers (Never thought this would happen in 2017!!)

~Reviewing/receiving more ARCs! With some of my biggest surprises being S. Jae-Jones Shadowsong + Marie Lu’s Warcross

AND:  Reaching 200+ blog followers & 1k+ on twitter! 😭💕📚

5. Most Popular Book Blog Posts

Out of the over 90 book blog posts I created this past year, here are some that had the most views:

Life After Legend by Marie Lu Review

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Fall}

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Winter}

Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia Review

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations Based On YA Books {Sci-Fi}

What were your 2017 Bookish Accomplishments or stats? Whether it be for reading, book blogging, etc.!

Any you hope to reach in 2018? 😁📚✨🎉

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum Review

The Wicker King by K. AncrumThe Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Publisher: Imprint (FierceReads)

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Wicker King is a dark and thrilling mystery that will keep you immersed and on the edge of your seat! The lyrical and raw writing delivers such emotion and conveys a dark and gritty atmosphere of mystery and suspense!

From the summary, I knew The Wicker King would be an intriguing mystery, but there were so many elements that surprised me and I became so invested into the world, plot, and characters!

Set in 2003, we follow August and Jack have been long time friends, since they were kids. Now as the years passed, they have their own friend circles, but outside of school still manage to maintain their deep and complex friendship.

There are also side characters, such as Rina + twins Roger and Peter, play a much more central role in Jack and August’s story as it progresses. Though for me personally a lot of the other minor side characters weren’t as developed as I would have hoped.

Then Roger suspects that Jack may be losing sight of reality and implores August to help his friend. As August begins to find out for himself, he soon learns more about Jack’s alternate fantasy with magic, monsters, and a quest, which tells of a prophecy only they can fulfill!

There’s discussion of co-dependency between Jack and August as its clear that Jack is very much in control of the dynamics of their friendship. While August wants to ensure Jack’s well-being, he can’t help but continue to feel obligated towards him and keep their relationship from fracturing.

Ancrum explores the dark and complicated elements of their codependent relationship and how it above all, impacts August the most.

The lyrical and vivid 3rd person POV flows perfectly with the overall dark and mysterious tone of the story, while really allowing you to see the characters (especially Jack and August)  in such a unique way, focusing more on their inner psyche and unique sides to their character.

What also brings so much more to the novel is the format of the novel! With pages going from light to dark as the story progresses, which was brilliant and further conveyed how the story grows into a much more complex, darker, and mysterious tale! There’s also additional illustrations, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc. all which really add more depth & an intriguing element of mystery!

Both August and Jack are developed so well that you really understand whats going on their heads through the short, but impactful sentences and chapters.

While this is a pretty quick moving mystery-thriller, its done in such a way where it slowly descends and unravels into a darker tale as the story progresses.

Arcum delivers dark mystery and suspense so perfectly! Alongside the quick, emotional and raw writing-style, it just brings together the plot and intricacies of August & Jack so perfectly!

From just such few sentences, we know about Jack & Augusts parents and how their neglect for their kids really impacted them and caused them to rely heavily on each other. (With Jack’s parent’s absence & August’s mother’s depression).

Mental Illness and health slowly gets weaved into the story and really cements itself into the story as it progresses.

As for diversity, we have one of our main characters August Bateman who is biracial and bisexual (as is Jack) and a GLBT+ relationship that clearly develops among Jack and August.

The story is brilliantly plotted and honestly had me up late reading just to unravel the mysteries of this book and the fascinating characters, August and Jack.

With twists, dark and atmospheric writing, discussion on mental health,  brilliantly crafted main characters, among other fantastic elements, The Wicker King is a perfect mystery read!

November 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh1. Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Rebel Seoul Full Review

Publisher: Tu Books ( Imprint of Lee & Low Books)

Release Date: September 14, 2017

Pages: 389

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This brilliantly plotted YA Sci-Fi/ Dystopia is set in a futuristic Korea and follows Lee Jaewon who is an ex-gang member, who now attends a prestigious military academy. He learns more about his government after an exam gets him assigned to looking after Tera (a super soldier). The writing and plot are so detailed and complex that you get such an immersive view into this sci-fi/dystopian future that Oh delivers with so much heart. This is very much a character and plot-driven story that just builds and builds to the very end! There’s action, politics, intrigue, and robots! 

Gray Wolf Island Tracy Neithercott2. Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

Gray Wolf Island Full Review

Publisher: Knopf BYR

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 336

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: When Ruby’s twin passes away, she sets out to fulfill her last wish to find the rumored treasure of Gray Wolf Island. There’s mystery, great character dynamics, and atmospheric writing that really brings the story to life. If your looking for an adventure tale with vivid setting, characters, and a hint of magic, this is definitely the book for you!

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes3. The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

The Little Queen Full Review

Publisher: Poetose Press

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Pages: 110

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This is an enchanting story that reads very much like a timeless fairy tale as we follow The Little Queen as she sets out a journey across her kingdom, figures out what it means to be a ruler, and makes new friends along the way. For such a short book, I really resonated with the inspiring messages about life, overcoming fears and change! I easily became connected to the characters and the magical world of The Little Queen.

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman4. Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman (Vengeance Road #2)

Retribution Rails Full Review

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 374

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Retribution Rails was wonderful conclusion to Vengeance Road! With a new set of characters set 10 years after and told through dual POV, we follow Rose Riders gang member Reece Murphy and aspiring journalist Charlotte Vaugn as the search for the owner of a mysterious gold coin brings them together! I loved the characters so much and this was such a plot-driven story that you really get a full scope of 1880’s Arizona. While there were so many things I loved about this book, the pacing did get pretty slow throughout the middle, felt some characters could have been expanded on a little more and wanted even more development with Reece & Charlotte! But overall this was such a character-driven and action packed addition to Vengeance Road that really stands great on its own!

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O' Neill5.The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’ Neill

The Tea Dragon Society Full Review

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: October 18, 2017

Pages: 72

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: This beautifully illustrated graphic novel follows Greta when she saves an injured tea dragon and is given the opportunity to learn more about them. This story is just so heart-warming and adorable! With friendship and the beauty of art and craft such prevalent themes of this story, you really become enchanted by the world of the tea dragons! Its also very diverse with characters of color, glbt relationships hinted at throughout, characters with disabilities and differing body-types! The Tea Dragon Society is whimsical, magical, and enchanting! Such a wonderful read!

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga6. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Here We Are Now Full Review

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 304

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Another deep and character-driven YA Contemporary from Jasmine Warga! This novel is about family and you really sense that throughout the story. Following Tal, she reconnects with her rock-star father when he shows up at her door to explain that his father is passing away and would like her to see him. From there she learns more about what caused her parents to split and the importance of family, music, and new beginnings! You know when you read a book at just the right time? That’s what reading Here We Are Now was like! I loved the writing, characters, and the important themes weaved throughout. If your looking for a moving and intricately woven YA Contemporary, this is definitely one to check out!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Literary Listens: Podcast Recs. Based On YA Books {Sci-Fi}

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄✨📚