Recommending YA Books That Deserve More Love

Hey everyone! Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my favorite backlist books and realized as time goes on, it becomes difficult to dive back into my old favorites with the sheer amount of new titles being released each year. It’s impossible to keep up with ALL the books, so today’s post is comprised of some marvelous reads that’ve been out for a while that I believe deserve more love. 💕✨

I’m so happy to be chatting with you all today about books I’ve adored that I definitely feel like should be recognized even more. Whether your looking for an urban fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary, or thriller, this list is indeed for you if you are need of some backlist gems!

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Genre: Urban Fantasy┃Young Adult
Release Date: June 27, 2015 (Feb. 2017 2nd Edition)

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted Vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of Vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they’re going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

Why you should read it: I still think about the unique concept that Kan delivered here― people gifted with superpowers live in a city they protect in the night! It also features a Queer / POC cast (Māori, Samoan, Indian, & Chinese characters) plus aro-ace and genderfluid rep. Friendship is also an integral part of this story as bonds are strengthened and new allies are made. Though years have passed, I continue to remember the fond memories I had reading this, truly a hidden gem in urban fantasy that delivers a fresh take on superheroes, highly recommend reading this. (Plus, if you want to support indie books and authors, you should also pick this up!)

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Genre: Young Adult ┃ Contemporary
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything? Actually, a lot. Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret. All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse. You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Why you should read it: What continues to stay with me about this superb novel is the use of a mixed media format which makes Alaine’s journey feel so personal as it deeply revolves around family, especially her mother! With Alaine being an aspiring journalist, I also found the element of journalism to be explored in such a thorough way. This truly is a moving, character-driven YA Contemporary story that explores many deep themes.

Shatter The Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Genre: Fantasy ┃ Young Adult
Release Date: July 30, 2019

Available Through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold. If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground… With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

Why you should read it: Firstly, umm DRAGONS, but also the detailed worldbuilding. If you’re in the mood for a “quiet” fantasy novel this one is perfect because the protagonist Maren is more of “reluctant hero” who isn’t looking for adventure, but certain events propel her to do so and she learns a lot about her world. The worldbuilding has tons of layers to it from the politics, to the setting, history, dragon lore, and lots more that develops the further you read. Also has a great cast of characters that leave you wanting to know more about them!

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

Genre: Horror ┃ Thriller ┃ Young Adult
Release Date: April 13, 2021

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends. To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own. When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

Why you should read it: Moldavsky uses elements from the horror genre in such a genius way that comes through in the writing, the way the story is told, its atmosphere, the intriguing characters and in so many other ways. Rachel is an awesome protagonist and this novel cleverly delves deep into her arc. This book truly blew my mind and is probably one of the most brilliant books I’ve read this year, I need more people to read this breathtaking and page-turning YA Thriller!

Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Genre: Contemporary┃ Romance ┃Young Adult
Release Date: July 30, 2019

Available through: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy?

Why you should read it: This is a perfect read if you’re in the mood for a YA royal romance (its also set during summer)! Alongside that, its character-driven / focused where the story centers Zora’s dreams and her development when she gets thrust into a royal spotlight. Its cute, fun, and a sweet read that I think deserves much more love!

That concludes the list, I hope you found a new underrated gem to dive into and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new feature!

What are some YA Books you’ve read that you think deserve more love or recognition? Thoughts on the books I’ve listed here?

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag │2021

There’s no way we’ve already made it towards the halfway point of 2021 — it’s been a unique year for me when it comes to reading and media in general (I’ve definitely seen myself gravitate towards different genres and categories of books, plus I’ve been watching a lot more anime too). Surprisingly I’ve never EVER done the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag before in my 5 years of blogging, but have always had such fond memories of watching them on booktube, being super curious about others reading progress. So, I thought it was time to finally share one of my own!

I’ve also noticed there’s not always too much chatter on here about the books I’ve read once a review’s been posted. Though constantly I’m always thinking about how a book I’ve read has stuck with me in some way and doing this tag gives me more opportunity to go more in depth on how some of these amazing books have left an impact!

Before diving into all the bookish questions, I also wanted to share one of the super fun projects I’ve been trying out this year and that’s: Tracking my bookish stats! (though I have been behind on updating it…whoops!) But what’s made it such a great experience so far is how personal it can be with the fact I can create my own categories, isn’t something stressful and can be more about discovering my own personal reading preferences! I’m hoping to keep the momentum going till the end of the year to see what the statistics say about my reads and any other interesting things I find. Now onto the questions:

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021?

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky: There are no words to describe the sheer brilliance of this novel…okay maybe some! I knew going into it that I would end up loving it but wow, did it surprise me!

Rachel Chavez is starting over at a new school and finds herself tangled up in the Mary Shelley Club, a secret society on campus obsessed with horror. I loved Rachel, there’s a sarcastic voice to her, but in the end all she truly wants is to fit in and overcome her dark, traumatic past.

I’m honestly a novice when it comes to the horror / thriller genre, but Moldavsky’s novel really delivers on those classic elements even for a beginner like me, I understood how she was utilizing the genre in such a clever way to tell this story.

Moldavsky effortlessly brings a descriptive, sharp language with her writing that evokes all those classic horror or thriller movie vibes. The story is an absolute page-turner, the cast of characters are so well developed, alongside atmosphere, suspense, and fantastic storytelling The Mary Shelley Club was easily a 5-star read for me this year. Such a phenomenal book, I LOVED it. [Full ARC Review]

Best sequel of 2021 so far?

Oculta by Maya Motayne: Do I have a series finishing problem? Absolutely! I can think of at least 5 where I stopped after a certain point and just never continued reading. However, this year there quite a number of sequels that blew me away. If I were to pick one it would definitely have to be Oculta, the second book in the Nocturna Trilogy.

The development that Alfie and Finn undergo in this book are just unparalleled in ways I cannot describe. This book has got everything, more worldbuilding, politics, intrigue mystery, magic, humor, adventure its got it ALL. I could not put it down, the speed at which I read through this book (according to goodreads like..a day?!) was astonishing even to me because its at over 400 PAGES! With every fiber of my being I wanted to take my time reading this and not speed through, but it was just TOO good how could I put it down?

Truly loved being in the world of Castallan again and especially how personal Alfie and Finn’s journeys felt while reading this book. The growth highlighted in this story was just absolute perfection, they each have their own responsibilities and complicated emotions, but still manage to find a way to each other even when things get complicated. Am completely stoked for the third book, how will I possibly wait? I’m not even sure.

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to?

The year of 2021 has been filled with many amazing books without a doubt and I have I read a majority of them? Sadly…no. But here’s a list of some that I definitely have on my radar still: Yolk by Mary HK Choi, Wings Of Ebony by J. Elle, Ace Of Spades…SO MANY fantastic YA are out this year I need to catch up on lots! Other’s that come to mind:

  • The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
  • Ravage The Dark by Tara Sim
  • June Hur’s books
  • The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He
  • Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Most anticipated release for the second half of 2021?

During June, I actually got an ARC of this in the mail which is Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices From The Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell. Though I haven’t read it yet, I flipped through and skimmed some of the entries and cannot wait to take my time reading through its entirety. It’ll feature poems and personal essays from some amazing writers in the Latine community, so I’m pretty excited about this one! I think what stuck out to me about this one was how with lots of YA anthologies they focus more on presenting fiction, but I like that these are more personal and how some are written from the authors own unique experiences. Eager to read and review this one for the blog!

Biggest disappointment?

For this I’d probably have to say Those Not-So-Sweet Boys volume 1 from Yoko Nogiri! I’m still pretty new to shojo manga and one of the first mangas that introduced me to the demographic was Nogiri’s Love In Focus series. However, with Not So Sweet the more I think about it the more I realize the characters were quite bland and there’s nothing too memorable about them. The concept is interesting, but being 200+ pages it felt there could have been more time given to establishing the characters themselves to offer them some extra dimensions. Still on the fence about continuing this series, so this was probably one of the more disappointing reads for me as I was really hoping to like this one more!

Biggest surprise?

Aren’t the best kinds of books the ones you pick up out of nowhere and end up loving? The biggest and best surprise for 2021 was definitely Wondercat Kyuu-Chan Vol. 1 from Sasami Nitori, which is a full-color manga series about a guy who adopts an abandoned cat who’s very extraordinary and unique. I’ve probably re-read this volume like 5 times already!! It’s incredibly funny, heartwarming, silly, wholesome and FUN! You can expect a full review on the blog in the near future, still debating whether I should review by volume or after a few more have released (stay tuned for that!).

I love that its in full color, it just adds to the charm of the story, but everything from the artwork, to the vignettes, and humor comes together so spectacularly…ahh this manga makes me wish I had a wonder cat!!

Favorite new author?

Going to cheat with this one and say basically all the new-to-me authors this year. There’s definitely lots of books that I ended up loving this year from either debuts or established writers whose work I picked up in 2021. However, I love discovering more writers and overall I’m happy to have had my reading be at least over 50% new authors.

Newest fictional crush?

Okay those familiar with my blog will probably know I’m a Qifrey stan, he’s a patient and understanding mentor who also harbors a covert desire for vengeance (against an evil group of witches) as he offers main character Coco, the chance to be his apprentice and learn how to become a witch herself. He’s from the Witch Hat Atelier series and the most recent volume that released this year Vol. 7 is in one word: Intense. There’s such an aura of mystery surrounding his story, he’s also incredibly well-written, and there’s only a tidbit of his past we learn in the latest volume, but I can’t wait to learn more about his backstory as the series continues. Kamome Shirahama seems to be developing a lot of intricate plot threads to her cast, Qifrey included and I am here for it!

Newest favorite character?

Gotta say Charlie from Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. She is just FABULOUS! She’s tackling first love, learning to love herself as she is, and working to pursue her dreams as a writer. But overall she’s learning to be more confident as a fat girl and her story is filled with so many heartfelt, inspiring messages! I truly wish there could be more books with her Brian, her best friend Amelia, and her mom ahh I just adored reading Charlie’s story. I’d been really looking forward to reading this book for a couple years now and wow, it was phenomenal, I’m still thinking about it (also Parvin too, uhh I adore them both equally). Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a YA Contemporary that should be on your radar if it isn’t already!

Book that made you cry?

Oculta yet again, which I was not expecting! But of course, falling completely in love with the worlds / characters once more, there’s a lot of intrigue, conflict, and mystery to this book that of course some Alfie and Finn moments had left me a puddle of emotions okay?

Book that made you happy?

Having read more manga this year, there were quite a few series that left smiles on my face! Wonder Cat of course and also my first read of the year Nicola Traveling Around The Demon’s World. Both of these were light-hearted series and I’m so glad to have given them a chance, they’ve quickly become new favorites and I’m eager to continue.

Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I was pretty excited to watch Shadow & Bone, however despite some issues and critiques I have (mainly the unnecessary racism), what made this a great adaptation was how it didn’t follow the traditional plot of the books. Merging together the original Grisha Trilogy plus Six Of Crows, for me, added more to the world and offered unique opportunities to delve into the world in a completely fresh way.

Favorite review / post you’ve written this year?

I’ve been incredibly proud of my discussions and new blog series that I’ve launched this year, however if I was to pick one I’d probably say my favorite of 2021 has been:

Where’s All The Book-to-Video Game Adaptations?: I loved researching for this post and wondering, as a gamer myself, which books would make for unique video games and even speculating what style would work best! I’m hoping to bring more unique discussions like this one and had the best time writing this for the blog.

Aside from my favorite post from my own blog I’m also super eager to shout-out a few fellow bloggers from the community, who I’m grateful to have chatted more with, discovered, or commenting more on their content this year (tbh I’d love to do a whole blog post just shouting out some awesome bloggers because there’s SO MANY):

– Alienor from A Fox’s Wanderings: I recently discovered her blog just this year and am in love with her content! From the beautiful graphics to fantastic layout of her posts, I’m always review, check-in or reading up on the newest video game she’s playing! 💗

– Lisa from Way Too Fantasy: She makes this incredible TBR Shelf Cleanup Series that never fails to make me ponder more about my own book collection. By deciding what to get rid of or keep in her shelf, she’s always delving into a new obscure fantasy that I probably would have never heard of before if it wasn’t for her series. Its super fun and a staple in my weekly blog reading! 💫

– Joy from Ohsrslybooks: As someone who doesn’t read a lot of romance on the blog (especially adult, because this is mainly a YA space) I’m always appreciative of Joy’s content. She’s always reviewing some great romance reads and no doubt, I’m discovering some awesome recommendations through her blog! 😍

Library In The Tower: There’s always fun bookish lists and features on Library’s blog, that have such creativity! For example: On A Theme is about a particular “theme” for certain books that are listed together in a post, which is lots of fun! Super thrilled to have discovered Library’s blog this year! 📚💗

– Cossette from Tea Time Lit: After discovering Cossette through her amazing edits, I fell in love with her content! Also around the same time I started Down Comes The Night, she was an avid supporter and passionate about it and I loved reading her tweets or blog posts that really showed how Saft’s novel impacted her. Of course, I also adore reading her other content on the blog she co-runs with a few other people. Very glad to have found Cossette’s blog and read all her wonderful posts! 🥳

– Cherelle from A Bolt Out Of The Book: I distinctly remember discovering Cherelle’s blog early into January and not only fell in love with her blog graphics, but the amazing way she talks about books in her reviews! Am in awe of the way she describes all the books she reads and how her posts make it impossible for me to figure out what amazing books to read next (…like Spin The Dawn or The Ones Were Meant To Find, cannot decide)! 🤩💗

Most beautiful book you bought or received this year?

There are so many I could probably list for this post, but I wanted to highlight a more recent purchase that I’m super excited about and that’s A Trial Of Sorcerers by Elise Kova!

Back in the early days of my blog I delved into more indie YA through Elise’s Air Awakens series, which has a special place in my heart. So, this year now that a new spin-off title set in this world was finally releasing I of course had to buy a copy.

As I was delving more into who the cover artist was for this post, I thought that the original cover designer Merilliza Chan was the illustrator for Trial Of Sorcerers, but it turns out it was actually Marie Magny! I like how the cover evokes the same feel of the original series and am of course thrilled to have a copy in my collection.

Can’t wait to dive back into the Air Awakens world and this cover is just 🤩✨ I love the detail of Eira’s outfit, the colors, and beautiful background.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well I’m sure us bibliophiles can agree there’s always a never-endling list of books we’re looking to read! Here’s a few for me that come to mind:

The sequel to Anna K., The Jasmine Throne, upcoming volumes of Spy X Family, Latinx-authored releases, also let’s just add any YA books published in 2019 and 2020 that I still haven’t read. 😂📚

That’s been the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag created by Ely & Chami. Hope you enjoyed learning more about my reading so far this year, but now I’d like to hear from you!

What are some of your favorite reads so far this year? Any you desperately want to read before 2021 ends? Have you done this tag? (If so, feel free to share below so I can read it too 💕)

Book News: YA Books Optioned For Adaptations

In just the past couple years alone no doubt you’ve probably read about Young Adult novels being optioned for a book-to-screen adaptation. With the success of adaptations such as ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,’Moxie,’ including the recent ‘Shadow And Bone’ which reached 55 million views in its first month (according to Deadline), it wouldn’t be surprising to see even more YA novels headed to our screens in the coming years. That’s why today I’ll be highlighting some of the many books currently under option to get the tv or film treatment, that you may or may not know about!

For clarification, an option basically means that the studio (or whoever acquires the novel) is given exclusive rights to purchase the material to then adapt or start the process of adaptation with an author’s work for a set period of time. There’s also lots of other factors involved that influence the process of getting the book to screen (credit: Optioning Literary Material by Mark Litwak [Entertainment Law Resources]).

With that out of the way, here’s a list of 10 books that are are optioned for an adaptation:

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Harper Teen (Quill Tree Books)
Release Date: September 5, 2017

Summary: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Originally to be developed as a half-hour series through HBO with J.J. Abrams and Chris Kelly attached, a recent update was revealed on May 6 through Deadline that Entertainment One (EOne) has now acquired the rights to adapt Silvera’s novel for television. Drew Comins is attached as a producer through EOne alongside Executive Vice President of scripted TV, Jacqueline Sacerio.

The Wrath And The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: May 12, 2015

Summary: In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

On November 20, 2020 it was revealed through a Deadline exclusive that Ahdieh’s novel is set to be adapted into a television series with 1212 Entertainment, which optioned the rights. 1212’s Roberto Grande and Joshua Long are also attached. According to the article, “former Bron Studios EVP of Domestic Television and ex-WME agent” Pippa Lambert will also develop alongside Grande and Long through her production company Hellcat.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date:
May 5, 2020

Summary: Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Bruna Papandrea through her production company Made Up Stories, acquired the rights to Acevedeo’s novel to be developed for television, revealed exclusively through Deadline on December 15, 2020. Alongside a partnership through Endeavor Content, Papandrea is set to be an executive producer alongside Steve Hutensky, Casey Haver and Janice Park, who are part of the Made Up Stories team. Acevedo is also set to executively produce and write the pilot.

Anna K by Jenny Lee

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: March 3, 2020

Summary: Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather a sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie. As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

During August of 2019, it was announced through Deadline that HBO Max won the rights to Anna K. with a “pilot commitment.” Set to be developed as a television series, not many updates have been given as of yet however Lee mentioned in a 2021 author tour/discussion to celebrate the sequel Anna K Away that although there’s not much to share, it’s “still in development…I can’t talk about it because there’s some movement…we don’t have anything big to announce yet but I’m hopeful that sometime soon we will…”

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 18, 2018

Summary: Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all. In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

During October of 2020, it was announced through Deadline that writers Aziza Barnes and Natasha Rothwell are developing Zoboi’s Pride for HBO as a series. Barnes will be the screenwriter and Rothwell will work alongside as executive producer. The company Alloy Entertainment is producing in collaboration with Warner Bros. Television.

The Witchland Series by Susan Dennard

Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 5, 2016

Summary: In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands. Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home. Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself. In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

During September of 2018 it was originally announced through Deadline that Dennard’s Witchland novels would be developed as a live-action television series, which was picked up by the Jim Henson Company. However an update was shared through Dennard’s social medias in October of 2020 stating that the production had new additions to the team: two showrunners and a director. Julie and Shawna Benson are not only showrunners but also writers alongside Alice Waddington whose directing.

Warcross by Marie Lu

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: September 12, 2017

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

During September of 2020, sites such as Variety announced that Warcross would be adapted as a television series where Made Up Stories and producer John Cameron picked up the rights. Executive producers include Adam Lash, Cori Uchida, alongside Papandrea, producer Janice Park and Cameron (who will direct the pilot). Alongside them, Steve Hutensky, Casey Haver and Lu herself will also serve as executive producer.

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date:
May 14, 2019

Summary: People lived because she killed. People died because he lived. Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be. War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds–and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

As of February 2021, it was announced that STXtv would be developing We Hunt The Flame as a one-hour television series, according to Deadline. The entertainment company is currently in the process of finding screenwriters for the project and Faizal will serve as an executive producer.

A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 2, 2020

Summary: For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom. But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition. When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

While not many details are known as of yet, it was revealed through Brown’s Twitter during September 2020 that A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin had television rights acquired by ABC Studios.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Release Date: September 20, 2020

Summary: Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

Before the novel was published Deadline reported during March of 2020 that Amazon, Sony Pictures TV, and John Berman’s studio-based Osprey Productions landed the rights to develop Inheritance Games for television. During September 2020, it was announced that Grainne Godfree (Legends Of Tomorrow) will be writer and executive producer on the project. Barnes is also attached as co-producer.

Did you know about any of these upcoming book-to-screen adaptations? Which of these books are you looking forward to seeing on the TV screen?

June TBR: Reading New Releases & YA Books

Hello everyone, back with another TBR list on the blog! While I managed to continue my average of about 5 books per month, for June I’m feeling inspired to read even more and finally get through some recent releases that have been sitting on my to-read list for quite a bit.

With summer almost here, I thought it’d be a perfect time to list a variety of books I’m hoping to read. Now that this month definitely seems more manageable alongside the smaller batch of new releases and me being a perpetual mood reader, the goal is to finally catch up on some of my grand 2021 reads!

While being a mood reader has definitely messed with my reading schedule recently, I’m feeling pretty confident that most of these spectacular titles will get read soon and I’ll have lots of reviews to share on the blog this month (including those from past my past list). As expected, there’s a great number of YA here, however I’m also highlighting a couple adult fantasy titles that I’ve been eagerly awaiting too. Here’s my ambitious list of reads for the month:

June TBR (Current Reads)

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Debut ┃ #Ownvoices Iranian-American rep. ┃ YA Contemporary ┃ Released: May 18, 2021

Originally I got this exciting debut as an ARC, but when my library re-opened and Parvin was finally available I decided to read the finished copy instead. Following 14-year-old Parvin Mohammadi, she’s a high school freshman who got her heart broken over the summer after her boyfriend told her she’s “too much.” Then when she meets a cute boy during orientation, she sets out to win the ultimate homecoming date and decides that following the romantic heroines in her favorite movies is the way to go. Or is it?

This book is in one word…FANTASTIC! Parvin’s voice is incredibly funny and the true spirit of this book! While Perfectly Parvin has such a great cast of characters, humor, hijinks, even interweaves themes like friendship, its a story ultimately about self-acceptance as Parvin learns to be true to herself. Though, one of my many favorite parts about this book is definitely the friendship between her, Ruth & Fabián. Seeing these friends support each other as they start their new adventure in high school is so great, they face a few ups & downs sure, but ultimately are by one another’s sides. I personally have not seen enough people talk about this book and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (Burning Kingdoms #1)

Trilogy #Ownvoices Indian-inspired fantasy and Sapphic rep. Adult Epic Fantasy Release Date: June 8, 2021

If you’ve followed my blog for a few years now, you’d know Tasha is one of my favorite epic fantasy writers, who wrote the wonderful Books Of Ambha duology. I fell in love with how she crafts her worlds, weaves in politics, alongside deeply complex character arcs, and the absolute joy I had when receiving an ARC was indescribable. I’ve recently started this one and from page one just immersed myself into another one of her phenomenal worlds.

The story follows Malini, a princess whose forced to be imprisoned in a temple by her dictator brother. Soon, the princess finds herself getting tangled up with Priya, a maidservant, who has some secrets of her own.

I can’t wait to learn more about Malini and Priya, seeing where their journeys are headed in this magical world. If you have yet to add this book to your to-read list, it can be best pitched as: Morally grey lesbians who want to set their empire ablaze!!

June TBR (Unread)

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Standalone #Ownvoices Latina & Puerto Rican rep. YA Dystopia & Sci-Fi Released: March 5, 2019

After so long, I finally read Lilliam’s books starting with Margot Sanchez! She’s become one of my new favorite authors and I’m making it goal to catch up on all her previously published novels. From the summary alone, Dealing In Dreams has been on my radar for years and its a Latina-written dystopia? Sign me up! The story is set in a near-future US where girl gangs rule the streets as they fight for power, freedom and survival.

Following Nalah, she hopes to keep her crew safe and to do so she sets her sights on the Mega Towers. But in order to gain a spot there, she’ll have to prove herself with a vital mission in search of a mysterious gang.

The concept sounds so thrilling and I’ve heard it’ll cover such a variety of themes that I can’t wait to explore. Very much looking forward to diving into this one!

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Standalone ┃ #Ownvoices Vietnamese-American rep. ┃ YA Contemporary ┃ Released: February 9, 2021

Who knew the fictional trope of rival restaurant-romance would be my new favorite? Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai work at their families competing pho restaurants, but a chance encounter has sparks flying! Despite their families history of rivalry will their love prevail?

I’m back in a YA Contemporary mood too, so I’m hoping to read through as many as I can this month as well.

Not entirely sure what inspired this recent interest in rivalry romance, but I am here for it! This sounds like such a delightful read and have seen lovely reviews from fellow bloggers that have me even more pumped to read Le’s debut.

The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He

Standalone ┃ #Ownvoices Asian rep. ┃ YA Sci-fi / Dystopia ┃ Released: May 4, 2021

The book internet and especially book twitter, has been raving about this book for quite some time, so safe to assume I have pretty high hopes for this intriguing contemporary/sci-fi twist. Following two sisters, Cee lives on a deserted island while Kasey is living in a protected eco-city. When Cee disappears, Kasey decides to retrace her steps and figure out what happened.

I like how this book is mixing sci-fi, dystopia and a bit of mystery too. Books that mashup quite a number of different genres always intrigue me and I’m quite curious to see how its all tied together.

I’m most interested in not only learning more about the sister dynamic, but also the intriguing setting that He has built. I’d love to get to this one as soon as I can so I can finally be part of the conversation and hype surrounding this YA title!

Fifteen Hundred Miles From The Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

Standalone ┃ #Ownvoices Mexican-American/Chicano rep. + Gay rep. ┃ YA Contemporary ┃ Releasing: June 8, 2021

Julián Luna has everything planned to get out of his suffocating Texas town and finally live true to himself. But after a accidentally coming out on Twitter, plans are now derailed. But when a crush named Mat slides into his DM’s, Julián slowly realizes he doesn’t have to face it all alone. Firstly just want to say from that summary alone this looks like it’ll be such a character-driven journey, while also sounds equally heartwarming and intense, I can’t wait, plus more Latine YA? YAY!

Also wanted to add a special thank you to Jonny for sending along a copy, hoping to read this delightful debut asap!

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker (The Golem & The Jinni #2)

Sequel Adult Historical Fantasy Releasing: June 8, 2021

The Golem And The Jinni is easily top of the list for my favorite historical fantasy novels of all time, it was also one of the first adult novels I’d ever read and has a special place in my heart. Without exaggeration, I can confidently say I’ve waited literal YEARS for this book (over 4 to be exact). I won’t spoil what happens in the first novel, but essentially the story follows a golem named Chava and a djinn named Ahmed who find their paths crossing in 1890’s New York. These unlikely friends learn what its like to live among humans and yearn to forge their own paths.

The amount of depth and detail you learn about the cast, the meaningful themes, and fantastic world building are just some of the many spectacular things I love about this novel. This book truly got me to admire and uncover more adult fantasy when I was a younger reader so, very thankful to Wecker’s tale! I’ve been waiting for this sequel for what feels like forever and I can’t believe it’s finally here.

What titles are you hoping to read during June? Any new releases or backlist books you’re looking forward to? Any recommendations you’d like to share?

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence Review

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Pages: 293

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Designer: Stephanie Yang & Michael Frost (Photographer)

Summary: Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have…together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends-even if it means losing one of them-or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is a great novel with a charming voice! Keiko is tackling so much throughout 7th grade like friendship, family, and love. Despite her fear of change, at its core her story is one about balancing all the things in life while also finding a way to achieve her own happiness. Michiko Florence delivers a delightful middle grade!

Back with another review and quite different than my usual Young Adult reads, I’m so glad I picked this book up earlier in May! This read was definitely everything I needed right now and wow, did I LOVE this. Amid all the busy events in my own life, Keiko’s story was so relatable to me especially with her goal of trying to make sure everything stayed the same, while also meeting her own personal expectations amid all the new changes in her life too.

Keiko is starting 7th grade and she’s ready to tackle what comes her way, as long as she has her friends by her side. Keiko has always been close with Audrey (growing up together, even with Audrey’s brother Connor too) and once her best friend Jenna returns after her summer trip in Texas, the trio is finally reunited. But when Audrey insists they try to find boyfriends before the Fall Ball while Jenna grows tired of following Audrey’s plans all the time, the trio runs into some obstacles along the way. Keiko’s mom is busy with work, her little sister Macy is keeping secrets, while Keiko is trying to please everyone and make sure they are happy. So can she figure it all out?

Jenna is realizing she may have a boyfriend of her own, Elliot, which developed during the summer and Audrey is not happy. Jenna has found her hobby in newspaper, leaving Keiko in the middle. Then Keiko crushes on a new student named Gregor, she hopes at least one of her goals for the new year will work out. But, as Keiko realizes she can rekindle her friendship with Audrey’s older brother Connor, it messes things up while also being the additional support she needs.

Michiko Florence’s writing is what captivated me! Keiko’s voice just leaps off the page and I loved following her journey. There’s lots of chocolate (Keiko’s favorite snack) and humor to her character too. Chocolate represented nice symbolism for the balance Keiko is trying to find during her new year at school and I love how it anchored one of the many important messages of the story.

Audrey’s insistence of her plan for 7th grade alongside her own personal flaws and at times selfishness, leaves Keiko feeling like she has to choose between her friends. Unsure of how to get the group together again. However, along the way she learns she can confide in Connor. She realizes she likes playing basketball and can talk about everything she can’t with her friends. Audrey is not happy, but along the way seeing their relationship grow was so nice and seeing Keiko growth too was very well done!

Character development is such a major element of this novel, which was so fantastic. Not only are all the characters realistic and relatable, but its easy to see that everyone has their own problems in life and its not always one person’s responsibility to deal with it all. At this novel’s core, Keiko’s learning that people grow and change, as she herself realizes that this change isn’t always bad either despite the difficulties in the beginning.

Being an older sister, Keiko is worried about Macy in the beginning, but when she uncovers her plans for being in theatre, their dynamic grows even more, it was wonderful. Despite Keiko’s sadness that her mother was very busy with work, at least she could become even closes with her sister. This novel really is all about the relationships we have in life and the way each of them turned out in the end felt realistic. If anything one that felt difficult to read was Audrey and Keiko’s friendship, they share so much history and this was a major conflict in the story leading up to the end. But despite the conflict, Keiko learns more about prioritizing her own happiness.

Keiko who is biracial, half-Japanese-American and white embraces her culture and I loved how this element was explored throughout the novel. Her best friend Jenna Sakai is Japanese-American.

There was nothing I particularly dislike about this novel, it was so fantastic! Obviously though as an older reader, there were hints and plot points I could predict early on, but the journey getting there was meaningful and full of heart. This was truly a fantastic read!

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is a phenomenal middle grade novel that tackles friendship, love, family, life, and the concept of change! With such well-developed themes, great characters, heartfelt messages, and a fantastic main character, this is a sweet, charming middle grade! A must read!

Manga Starter Kit: Recommendations For Book Bloggers

With the amount of manga reviews on the blog, frankly this post shouldn’t have surprised me! Over the past few weeks, I decided it was finally time to share my own personalized list of manga series for book bloggers who are new to the space or those who just want to learn about more series. When I found it such a struggle to pick up prose novels in 2020, manga really helped save my reading for the year! There’s thousands of series out there that even I feel overwhelmed at times. From the distinct artwork to engaging story that builds across each volume, I’ve found so much joy in rediscovering my love of manga again, so my hope is to share that with you through today’s post!

Before diving into the post, I often get asked where to find some of these manga or where to read them, so I’ll also be listing resources for sites to read digitally, etc., with that said onto the list!

The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil, a Rún by Nagabe

Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date:
January 27, 2017
Translator:
Adrienne Beck

Summary: Once upon a time…In a land far away, there were two kingdoms: the Outside, where twisted beasts roamed that could curse with a touch, and the Inside, where humans lived in safety and peace. The girl and the beast should never have met, but when they do, a quiet fairytale begins. This is a story of two people–one human, one inhuman–who linger in the hazy twilight that separates night from day.

Despite having only read two volumes of The Girl From The Other Side now over 3 years ago, the artwork alone makes this series quite memorable. I definitely remember when it was a booktube favorite some time back, but with the quiet simplicity to the story, it definitely feels like a perfect starting point for bloggers new to manga! What keeps me tethered to this world is not only the threads of mystery, but the endearing characters of Shiva (a human girl) and her monster/demon-human hybrid guardian named Teacher. The almost cross-hatched, fairytale-esque artwork is also equally haunting and captivating. I do hope to continue this series soon and believe it’s worth the read.

Current # of Volumes out: 10Bookshop The Book Depository

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama

Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Translator: Stephen Kohler

Summary: In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with a gift for magic. Resigned to her un-magical life, Coco is about to give up on her dream to become a witch…until the day she meets Qifrey, a mysterious, traveling magician. After secretly seeing Qifrey perform magic in a way she’s never seen before, Coco soon learns what everybody “knows” might not be the truth, and discovers that her magical dream may not be as far away as it may seem…

The Witch Hat Atelier series is PHENOMENAL, truly has solidified itself as one of my favorite fantasy manga series of all time! Shirahama’s artwork is presented to almost tell its own story alongside the main plot, with influences from European or old-style fairytale artwork. Through her attention to detail when it comes to the unique paneling, overlapping her artwork on the panels, creating a 3-dimensional environment, and how she stylizes her frames to interact and blend alongside the characters is nothing short of brilliant. Coco is a girl whose grown up loving magic, but has no magic of her own. It’s only when her path crosses with that of a traveling witch named Qifrey, that her adventure in the world of magic begins! Witch Hat also has some of the best character designs I’ve ever seen with a story that’s equally captivating! There’s great worldbuilding, a unique magic system twists, mystery, friendship, and adventure! Highly recommend this as a series beginner, it’s breathtaking and a true masterpiece in the making.

– Current # Of Volumes: 7 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Translator: Casey Loe

Summary: Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head! Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!

If your kind of story can best be summed up as an amalgamation of top-tier tropes and found family, then you must pick up Spy X Family! This action-packed, espionage comedy follows a master spy whose next mission involves going undercover to keep the peace between two neighboring countries. His mission your wondering: It’s to create a FAKE FAMILY. With an assassin as a wife and a telepath for a daughter, the Forger’s must present themselves as the “perfect family” and still keep their own secrets underwraps. Humor and hijinks ensue with each volume and you won’t be able to put it down. Pick up this series, you will NOT be disappointed!

TROPES include: Found family, marriage of convenience, secret-keeping, and every volume is pure CHAOS!

– Current # Of Volumes: 4 – BookshopFree Preview of Vol. 1 on Viz Media

I Hear The Sunspot by Yuki Fumino

Publisher: One Peace Books
Release Date:
November 3, 2017

Summary: Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

I Hear The Sunspot holds a special place in my heart being one of the first mangas I’d read after not picking one up for years! Focused heavily on its characters, this series will capture your heart from page 1. Following college students, Kohei has a hearing disability, struggles connecting with others and making friends, feeling quite lonely. Then one day he meets outgoing Taichi, so the two become friends and maybe more? Their friendship and relationship is a fundamental layer to this story that is present across each volume that I’ve read so far! The deeply personal, emotional journeys of Kohei and Taichi are what keep you anchored to this quiet, moving series till the very end. Fumino’s series also takes time to thoroughly discuss and explore different layers to Kohei’s hearing disability. Definitely a more quiet, sweet, slow-burn kind of contemporary, but so worth the read!

– Current # Of Volumes: 4 – BookshopThe Book Depository

The Fox & Little Tanuki by Mi Tagawa

Publisher: Tokyo Pop
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Translator: Katie Kimura

Summary: Long ago, the gods granted a few special animals great powers… but not all those animals used their magical abilities for good! Senzou the Fox Spirit in particular grew too brash and arrogant, abusing his strength until the gods imprisoned him for his bad behavior. Three hundred years later, he’s finally been released, but only on one condition– he can’t have his any of his abilities back until he successfully helps a tanuki cub named Manpachi become an assistant to the gods. Unfortunately for Senzou, there’s no cheating when it comes to completing his task! The magic beads around his neck make sure he can’t wander too far from his charge or shirk his duties, and so… Senzou the once-great Fox Spirit must now figure out how to be an actually-great babysitter to a mischievous little tanuki or risk being stuck without his powers forever!

This manga is equal parts sweet and entertaining, while also tugging at the heart strings! Senzou is an evil fox spirit whose been freed after 300 years and his task (in order to regain his powers), is to train a tanuki cub, turning it into a servant of the gods. Have I also mentioned this features the GRUMPY x SUNSHINE trope? The evil, nefarious fox slowly begins to care for the tanuki while also maintaining his cold exterior (top tier execution of this trope!). I can definitely see this as a great starter manga because the story is quite straightforward, but also layered with mystery to the main characters and filled with lots of Japanese mythology. It’s such a page-turner!

– Current # of Volumes: 3 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa

Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date:
February 27, 2018
Translator: Amanda Haley

Summary: Time for a change of pace. Yuugo Hachiken flees the hustle and bustle of city life to enroll at Oezo Agricultural High School. At first he’s just trying to outrun his problems, but instead he finds a place for himself in this quaint rural community. Having always been at the top of his class, Yuugo assumes a rural school will be a breeze, but mucking out stables, gathering eggs, and chasing errant calves takes a lot out of him-and fills him with something he’s never experienced before. Surrounded by endless fields and fresh air, Yuugo discovers a new connection to the land and to life…Springtime begins at Ezo AG! Between the classrooms and cowpatties, the boy becomes a man.

Out of all the series in this list, Silver Spoon is one I haven’t read but from the summary alone it looks to be a nice introduction to a slice-of-life series, which I think bloggers would really enjoy. As a book blogger who is still trying to find new manga series this one appealed to me because it seems like a very wholesome, slower paced story. Also, interesting fact, if the author’s name looks familiar its because she also wrote Full-Metal Alchemist! [Unread]

Current # of Volumes: – BookshopThe Book Depository

Love In Focus by Yoko Nogiri

Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Translator: Althea and Aldena Haley

From the creator of New York Times bestselling manga That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! comes a feel-good romance about a teenage girl whose passion for photography leads her to a new school, a new dorm, and a new love triangle! Mako’s always had a passion for photography. When she loses someone dear to her, she clings to her art as a relic of the close relationship she once had…Luckily, her childhood best friend Kei encourages her to come to his high school and join their prestigious photo club. With nothing to lose, Mako grabs her camera and moves into the dorm where Kei and his classmates live. Soon, a fresh take on life, along with a mysterious new muse, begin to come into focus!

As someone who struggles to get into shojo titles, I think Love In Focus is a great place to start for book bloggers. It follows Mako a passionate photographer who moves into a boarding house and attends a new school after joining a photo club with her childhood friend Kei. However, she soon finds a new subject for her photos, one of the boys who lives at the boarding house too. While it can seem like an obvious love triangle situation here, the way the characters backstories unfold and their dynamic with Mako felt very well developed. I personally loved the art-style and how it portrayed lovely backgrounds, character designs, and if you want to read a series for the interesting romance, friendship, etc. this is a WONDERFUL series that I recommend. At only 3 volumes, this is also a great pick if you are interested in checking out short, completed series!

Current # Of Volumes (Completed): 3 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki

Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Translator: Leighann Harvey

To the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student Umetarou Nozaki–brawny of build and brusque of tongue–is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table…but getting recruited as a mangaka’s assistant?! Never in a million years! As Chiyo quickly discovers, Nozaki-kun, the boy of Chiyo’s dreams, is a manga artist…a hugely popular shoujo manga artist, that is! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo’s daily life of manga making and heartache begins!

Nozaki is truly the single greatest piece of romantic comedy fiction [emphasis on COMEDY] I’ve ever read (and watched). The plot itself starts on a rather hilarious note and sets the tone for all future shenanigans that follow throughout this series. Chiyo is a high school student who has a crush on her classmate Nozaki, but when she finally gathers up the courage to tell him how she feels, he 100% misunderstands her, leading Chiyo to become his manga assistant. From that point on, Chiyo’s connecting with more of her classmates and Nozaki, building some awesome friendships, but seeing them grow together across their various wacky adventures is a highlight of Tsubaki’s series. What follows is great comedic timing and an utterly clever subversions of typical romance/shojo tropes! Presented in the 4-panel style, the reason this series would appeal to book bloggers is because its very episodic so you can enjoy it at your own pace and the author’s fun spin on tropes you might not have seen before. This is a fantastic series I picked up early on as I was getting back into manga in 2016 and it truly holds up year after year! Tsubaki’s brilliant take on tropes makes this series a memorable one, still going strong at 11 volumes!

Current # Of Volumes: 11 – BookshopThe Book Depository

Additional Recommendations // UNREAD

Here’s a few more mangas that I’ve been planning on reading and based on the summary they definitely sound like they would appeal to book bloggers who are searching for more series!

Natsume’s Book Of Friends by Yuki Midorikawa

Takashi Natsume has always been aware of the supernatural world, but after he inherits a magical book from his grandmother, the supernatural world is aware of him! Takashi Natsume can see the spirits and demons that hide from the rest of humanity. He has always been set apart from other people because of his gift, drifting from relative to relative, never fitting in. Now he’s a troubled high school student who has come to live in the small town where his grandmother grew up. And there he discovers that he has inherited more than just the Sight from the mysterious Reiko. When Reiko was Takashi’s age, she bound the names of demons and spirits in her Book of Friends, enslaving them to her capricious whim. Now Takashi is the owner of the book, and the creatures will do anything to get their names back.

I don’t often reach for older manga series, but the way mythology blends in a contemporary setting sounds like a lot of fun it also seems like a quiet series, focused on the characters and the world. I’m looking forward to checking this one out!

The Apothecary Diaries by Natsu Hyuuga

After breaking a “curse” on the imperial heirs, a palace servant with training in herbal medicine is promoted up the ranks to food taster…and right into the thick of palace intrigue in this lushly illustrated period mystery series! Maomao, a young woman trained in the art of herbal medicine, is forced to work as a lowly servant in the inner palace. Though she yearns for life outside its perfumed halls, she isn’t long for a life of drudgery! Using her wits to break a “curse” afflicting the imperial heirs, Maomao attracts the attentions of the handsome eunuch Jinshi and is promoted to attendant food taster. But Jinshi has other plans for the erstwhile apothecary, and soon Maomao is back to brewing potions and…solving mysteries?!

What’s drawn me to this series is the story which sounds so fascinating, a historical series following a food taster who gets tangled up in palace intrigue, court politics, and mysteries?! Sign me up! The cover itself is also gorgeous and this one sounds like it’ll be a very page-turning read!

Restaurant From Another World by Junpei Inuzuka

In Tokyo lies a small restaurant called “Western Cuisine Nekoya,” ordinary in every way–save one. Every Saturday, its door connects to another world! Follow along as a cavalcade of curious guests from half-elves to samurai, dragons, halflings and vampires enter its premises, all with the same goal in mind: to fill their stomachs with the most mouth-watering of foods.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you would know I’ve been trying to finish this series, especially book 1, for YEARS (hopefully putting it on yet another list will motivate me). It’s genuinely such a cozy, feel-good series that more people should read. If quiet, fantasy stories are your thing, you should check this out! Its about a seemingly typical restaurant called “Western Cuisine Nekoya.” However, on Saturdays it opens up a portal where all kinds of people and magical creatures sit and enjoy some delicious food. Technically I’ve only started the light novel, but I love how each visitor and food is talked about in-depth. Such a unique series!

Resources:
If you are looking for more accessible ways to read manga here are a couple apps/websites for you to check out if you’d like to read a few chapters (or entire series) of select manga titles:

*Bookwalker is an online digital manga store that offers previews, however it doesn’t include Viz Media titles

Hope you enjoyed my manga starter recommendations, this is hopefully only just PART 1 of a new series on the blog! Thanks for reading! If you are new to these titles, I do hope you’ll check them out!

✨Do you read a lot of manga? What are some starter series you recommend or have any particular favorites? Have you read any from this list? ✨

March TBR: Prioritizing ARCs and Backlist Books

Hello everyone, it’s been quite a while since I’ve shared any kind of TBR list on this blog, but I’ve been feeling inspired to chat more about the books that’ve interested me and that I’m been eager to read.

I struggle with creating TBRs because I’ve realized over the past year, I would definitely say that my reading habits have transformed me into more of a “mood reader.” I’ve also been feeling a lot more motivated to create content on the blog besides reviews and hopefully these kinds of posts will help me stick to some kind of monthly schedule.

I’d love to chat about all the books I’m hoping to get to this month and would love to hear about what your reading plans are too! So here’s my ambitious TBR over the next couple weeks:

March TBR (Current Reads)

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Debut #OwnVoices Puerto-Rican rep.YA ContemporaryReleased: Feb. 2, 2021
I first received this book as an ARC, but of course with my reading schedule being all over the place, I haven’t gotten to finishing this one quite yet. But I’ll be honest…2021 has made me reflect on the importance of taking time to read a book and not just rushing through, which is exactly why it’s taken me a bit longer to finish up Maldonado’s book.

Overall, I’m loving Charlie’s journey in this as she learns to have a better relationship with her body, navigate love, and improve her relationship with her mom. Maldonado has written Charlie in such a realistic way, her narrative voice is interwoven with humor and heart, plus there’s such a great cast of characters! If you have yet to add this phenomenal debut to your To-read list, I highly recommend it!

Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft

Debut Bisexual rep. YA Fantasy Released: March 2, 2021

In addition to my current interest in dark academia, perhaps I should also add gothic literature to the list? Following a healer named Wren, she takes a job at a crumbling manor where she learns she’ll have to heal her kingdom’s sworn enemy! The writing is so atmospheric, I’m also just so intrigued by the setting and characters. This is another book I’m taking my time with because not only am I reading way too many things at once, but also really want to immerse myself in the magical world.

Hoping to finish this one soon, I also made an aesthetic which was lots of fun!

March TBR (Unread)

Storm The Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter The Sky #2)

Sequel Bisexual & Sapphic rep.YA FantasyReleased: Oct. 13, 2020

Last year around early 2020 I finally read Well’s Shatter The Sky and fell in love with it. Maren is on a quest to rescue her girlfriend Kaia whose taken by prophetic seers of their empire. When Maren comes up with a plan to find a dragon to go look for her, she gets tangled up in the politics and intrigue, even makes new friends when she enters undercover in the empire’s stronghold. There’s a lot of dragon lore, interesting characters, and a unique world I’m eager to learn more about in the sequel.

I’m eager to see how Maren’s journey wraps-up especially as there’s a few plot threads that surprised me near the end. Originally I got an arc of this one, so I’m debating whether to read my arc or just borrow a library copy.

Satoko And Nada Vol. 4 by Yupechika

FinaleJapanese & Saudi-Arabian rep.ContemporaryReleased: Dec. 29, 2020

I’ve gotten quite into the habit of starting a lot of manga series, but never finishing them. However, with only 4 volumes, Satoko & Nada captured my heart each and every time. This series follows exchange students Satoko (Japanese) and Nada (Saudi-Arabian) who become roommates and the best of friends! Across each volume, you follow their daily adventures, featuring a very slice-of-life atmosphere that’s just too wholesome!

I’m literally sobbing because this will be the last volume, but trust the author to deliver a wonderful conclusion to their adventures in America. I might be putting this one to the side for a bit, because I’m so not ready to say goodbye to these characters just yet.

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Debut#Ownvoices Black Rep.YA ContemporaryReleased: Jan. 5, 2021

After getting through Charlie Vega so far, I realized I’m also in such a contemporary romance/rom-com mood! Tessa, a dedicated writer, gets into a creative writing program, but along the way loses that spark. So with her friend Caroline, they create a romance novel-inspired list of steps to help Tessa get inspiration through a real-life love story of her own.

This just sounds like a super fun read and I’m interested in seeing what Tessa learns along the way.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

StandalonePan & Latinx rep. (#OwnVoices)YA Magical Realism & Fairytale retellingReleases: March 16, 2021

If you didn’t know, Anna-Marie is one of my all-time favorite authors!! They write the most beautiful Latinx fairytales and of course it’s no surprise I’d be reading their newest novel. It looks like this novel will deeply explore healing and as always, McLemore delivers such a wonderfully developed cast of characters, delves into many themes, and much more!

Also got an arc of this one, so hopefully I can get to reading it during March and share my review!

Content warning: PTSD and SA

The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (Magic Of The Lost #1)

DebutSapphic rep Epic FantasyReleases: March 23, 2021

Earlier this month I got a copy of The Unbroken! 2021 is the year I’m looking to read and catchup on adult sff/ epic fantasy, so I’m adding Clark’s debut to the list to hopefully motivate me to get through the newer releases.

The story sounds great as its set in a North-African inspired desert colony/empire. There’s even a grumpy soldier / princess dynamic and I’m so fascinated in immersing myself in this epic world.

What have you read during the month of March? Any recommendations or new releases you’re looking forward to?

Book Blogger Resources: Crafting Book Reviews

In the world of book blogging, book reviews are a staple of the community. Our thoughts, emotions, and musings on a particular book can surprisingly be compiled into a single post. However, this task is not always easy and crafting a review takes time.

Once you close the final page, your mind is probably reeling with endless thoughts on how the world, characters, and story made you feel (whether positively or not).

Regardless, it takes time and there’s many story elements to consider when writing reviews and in reality, us bloggers put ourselves under such pressure to accomplish this seemingly impossible task time and time again.

Book reviews are a way for us to sort of unveil our own experiences when reading a particular book and if we absolutely love it, reviews have the special sort of magic in making us feel like we are pushing the book into readers hands right then and there.

That’s why in my second Book Blogger Resources post, I’ll be sharing a broad list of resources filled with articles (and blog posts) that can help guide you in your own reviews. In addition, I will also highlight some of my own tips and offer any advice I can.

📚☕ BLOGS & ARTICLES 📚☕

The Quiet Pond: CW crafted a list featuring 63 prompts to help you when you are stuck on writing a book review. Featuring categories such as writing, plot, characters, worldbuilding, etc. this post highlights different angles you can examine these elements from with the variety of questions. There’s also questions focusing on positives / negatives for more clarity too.

This post offers a lot of distinct elements to think about when trying to write a review. I enjoy looking back at this post when I’m unsure of other topics to cover in an occasional review.

Purdue Owl (Online Writing Lab): As a university student, this site has been a life-saver when it comes to citations, however I recently discovered this wonderful article on “Writing A Book Review” and believe it has a lot of phenomenal key concepts to think about as you’re reading.

It mentions 5 broad elements that can make up the structure of your review such as Characters, Themes, Argument, Key Ideas, and Quotes. There’s great descriptions for each of these and overall I love how this post was structured.

Grammarly: Through a very easy to read How-To, Grammarly’s blog post features some tips on what to include when writing, such as a hook to capture reader’s attention and how to describe your praises or critiques. It also features examples which can be really helpful.

📚☕ 24hr.YABookBlog Reviewing Tips 📚☕

Figuring out what sticks
Once I finish a book there’s always a particular element that stayed with me long after I finish reading. It can truly end up being anything from the arc of a character to the atmosphere, writing, or a combination. Focus on a particular element that stuck with you about the book, to help anchor your review.

Whether I loved the book or thought it was okay, there’s always something I got out of reading it and recognizing that has helped me to gather my thoughts more clearly over the years.

Short Reviews
Despite my preference for writing long reviews, there’s a lot of value in short reviews. They don’t have to be 1,000 word essays if you don’t want them too. Remember that your opinion is what matters and as long as you get that across, don’t worry about the length. As the old saying goes, sometimes “less is more!”

Figuring out your structure
Sometimes this can change even for me depending on the book, but as general rule I always like to include at least 1-3 core elements of a book to discuss. This helps me create a beginning, middle, and end when explaining my thoughts.

For example: I recently read A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen which is a prequel/origin story to an antagonist in her podcast The Bright Sessions. Something that helped me figure out these core elements was using Tip #1 [Figuring out what sticks], which ended up being how she humanized the villain who is also our protagonist. This then led me to find my other elements to discuss such as the canon of the original podcast and the character’s emotional journey.

“She does a fantastic job at humanizing even the most morally questionable characters, if anything it made me realize why creators are hesitant at crafting stories from villains perspectives…”24hryabookblog, Excerpt from my review of A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

Don’t Ignore Worldbuilding Details
Whether it’s a fantasy, sci-fi or even contemporary, authors always take time to build a world for the story they tell. As you read, take note as to what those details are. Often times the world can give a lot of insight into the plot, society as a whole, atmosphere, how the protagonist(s) interpret it or how the world influences the characters themselves. Noticing these details can help you to explain the worldbuilding in your reviews, or perhaps the character’s place within it.

Worldbuilding can appear in a variety of ways such as the magic system, the setting, writing style, and even the development or expansion of specific details as the story progresses.

Brief BONUS tip on reviewing comics (or graphic novels) insp. by StoriedShelves response to my post asking for topic suggestions in this post:

This is something I’ve learned over the years and I’m always practicing with each review, but I think it’s important to also look at the art style. Think about how the art style adds to the story and describe what you like about it. While the story can be more fast-paced than a typical prose novel, I’d say take time to look and appreciate the art too.

To conclude, these are just some of my tips for including particular elements within a book to your review if you’re struggling or stumped on how to approach certain parts of the process. Sometimes it can feel like quite the challenge and as Marie from Drizzle And Hurricane Books said so graciously in her 2018 blog post which captured my thoughts exactly, “Reviewing a book starts the moment you are reading…” Your thoughts, opinions, and emotions are a part of the reading experience from beginning to end, so be sure to consider that if you need extra guidance in your posts.

Hope my post has offered some value to all of you bookish reviewers and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

✨ What do you enjoy about writing reviews? ✨ How do you decide what you want to write about in your book review? ✨ Will you use any of the resources or my personal tips in your own reviews?

*Note: If you do end up using my personal tips and were influenced by reading my post, PLEASE let me know & link this post (credit me) it would mean a lot to me knowing my resources helped other reviewers or bloggers out there with their own posts!

Recommending Books From Authors Of Color Inspired by Dark Academia

Dark Academia is an aesthetic I’m utterly fascinated by. I first discovered it through Tumblr, though in recent years it’s increased in popularity due to Instagram and more recently, TikTok. It’s an aesthetic that at its core promotes the pursuit of learning, literature (oftentimes classics), the arts, and feels almost timeless. Although its origins are unknown, it can be defined by this NYT article as a niche subculture where there’s a “heavy emphasis on reading, writing, learning — and a look best described as traditional-academic-with-a-gothic-edge” (New York Times, Bateman 2020).

After re-watching ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ atleast 3 times in the past month, my love for dark academia returned which quickly led me reading up on articles, watching videos, and getting lost in those tumblr aesthetics again. However, it’s also an aesthetic that has rightfully received criticism for traditionally ignoring POC or other marginalized communities. That’s why today I wanted to share a list of books written by authors of color that either are pitched as OR remind me of the Dark Academia aesthetic featuring YA, Manga, and SFF!

Young Adult

1. Nocturna by Maya Motayne (A Forgery Of Magic #1)

Summary: To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Why: Easily one of my favorite fantasy novels, what stuck with me about Nocturna was Motayne’s focus on culture, history and the Spanish language that weaves its way throughout the entirety of its story. They can be seen so vibrantly through it’s setting, the country of Castallan. These elements fit that academic idea that are a foundation of this aesthetic. [This YA Fantasy is also #ownvoices as its inspired by Maya’s Dominican heritage].

2. Ace Of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Release Date:
June 1, 2021

Summary: Gossip Girl meets Get Out in this YA Contemporary Thriller about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

Why: Àbíké-Íyímídé has pitched the novel as featuring the DA aesthetic and is set at an elite private school.

3. How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao (HWFA #1)
Release Date: August 3, 2021

Summary: In a YA thriller that is Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us is Lying, students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. 

Why: Similar to the novel mentioned above, Zhao has also pitched the novel as featuring this particular aesthetic as well.

Science Fiction Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

4. Realm Of Ash by Tasha Suri (The Books Of Ambha #2)

Summary: The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed…including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.

Why: In this spin off to Suri’s Books Of Ambha it features a young grief-stricken woman with magic in her blood and a scholarly prince who work together to save a crumbling empire. Have I mentioned that Arwa alongside studious prince Zahir literally spend chapters reading, studying, analyzing poetry and discussing tea together?! That is such a Dark Academia mood!

Manga

5. Spy X Family Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Summary: Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!

Why: Dark Academia is also known for it’s focus on the mystery or thriller atmosphere and this manga perfectly captures that…with a twist! A spy, telepath, and assassin become a fake family and are attempting to infiltrate an elite private school for the master spy Twilight to complete his mission. There’s also the element of pursuing knowledge that becomes apparent as you are intertwined with the unique role of each member of the Forger family. But of course, many secrets are kept in this dark, thrilling, and entertaining series.

Hope you enjoyed my intro to my Dark Academia book recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these in the comments below! Planning on making more posts like this again soon, thanks for reading!

Is this an aesthetic you enjoy or any elements in particular you enjoy about DARK ACADEMIA? What are your thoughts on the books recommended in this list?

YA Book Comparisons by Authors Of Color and Unfair Critiques of BIPOC Work {Book Blog Discussion Revisited}

As it often happens in the book community, discussions are often recycled, repeated, in an almost yearly cycle. However, one cannot ignore the nuance and expansion that each of these discussions brings (no matter how monotonous), which sheds a new light on a different angle of which to view it. Today I’m revisiting an article I wrote originally in October of 2019 to explore the idea of comparative titles or reader comparisons in general, and how they impact the ratings/perception of YA Fantasy novels, particularly by authors of color.

Due to specific expectations or perhaps the overworked concept of “comp titles,” the main point of my 2019 article was to showcase how these books, almost always by authors of color are harshly critiqued or left with unfair ratings due to surface level comparisons. So why am I revisiting this discussion again? Well news broke on November 4 that Hafsah Faizal’s upcoming 2022 novel (which sounds phenomenal btw) titled “A Tempest Of Tea” would be a new fantasy duology featuring a “gang of outcasts and a deadly heist.”

According to Faizal via Twitter, in the span of less than 24 hours, 19 to be exact, her unpublished book with only an announcement already started getting compared to no surprise… Six Of Crows.

Many in the book community, rightfully so, have taken to Twitter speaking out against this unfair critique. As mentioned in my 2019 discussion, surface-level comparisons such as these often undermine the lengthy discussions and research authors of color input to delve into topics such as colonialism, slavery, race, and much more unlike the white authors to which their novels get compared to. Especially when authors of color are crafting works based on their own distinct experiences or culture.

It’s truly disheartening to see because it instills this idea *specifically* among the book community (or industry) whether it’s readers, publishers, etc. that authors of color or BIPOC folks, can’t have their novels stand on their own. In my previous piece I examined this through The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and Nocturna by Maya Motayne (which are both excellent YA Fantasy titles).

*Note: I’m not here to completely disregard comp titles or anything, because without a doubt they can invaluable tool to increase awareness, draw in similar readers, or help titles during different stages of the publishing process. For information on the usefulness of this method, I recommend reading “Comp Titles: An Elevator Pitch For Your Book” from the Penguin Random House blog ‘News For Authors’.

As mentioned numerous times by authors, readers, and so on, SOC did not invent heists nor will it ever be the only novel that does so. (Especially since Ally Carter’s Heist Society came out in 2010 and is often forgotten). Maybe I’ll delve into this in another discussion, but I feel this largely has to do with the rise in online book community spaces just as SOC was released and hyped up which then in turn, led to this book being pushed and later cemented among that wave of readers, reviewers, etc. finding their online space.

Now back to my main point, in the end us as readers need to be more cognizant that as publishing continues to become more inclusive and diverse, we need to understand that many communities of color have not had their chances at telling the stories we’ve encountered hundreds of times. While of course not every book is for everyone (which is absolutely valid), I think if anything, this is a great opportunity for readers to see how authors use their unique and distinct backgrounds to explore tropes/storytelling from their particular lens.

In an article from Bustle on November 24, celebrating Sabaa Tahir’s finale to the ‘An Ember In The Ashes’ quartet, Tahir mentioned how there is still much work to be done in “[diversifying] YA publishing,” additionally she stated:

Over and over, authors from marginalized groups are told, ‘We already have a book like this,’ or ‘We already have an author like you.’ But books by marginalized authors shouldn’t be a quota you fill…”How many vampire books written by white authors? Dozens. I’ve nothing against that, but authors from marginalized groups deserve the same respect. Just because authors have similar experiences or ethnic backgrounds doesn’t mean their stories will be identical. We contain multitudes and our work is meaningful and distinctive.

Sabaa Tahir via ‘The An Ember In The Ashes Series Might Be Over, But Sabaa Tahir Is Just Getting Started’ from Bustle

Where traditionally, marginalized and BIPOC writers have been on the outskirts, we should not overlook the strides made when a new author of color publishes, because each one is an accomplishment, inspiration, and hope for a future beaming with new writers waiting to tell their own stories too.

I will yet again, leave on this quote from Leigh Bardugo herself in a 2016 article from Bustle, where she states, “The truth is, I get a lot of praise for diversity, but there are far more diverse fantasy worlds out there.”

Any additional thoughts you’d like to add to this discussion? or Any related topics your interested in sharing? 📚✨

Additional articles from fellow book bloggers that also discuss this topic:

1.Michelle from MagicalReads7 post The Gilded Wolves Vs. Six Of Crows

2. CW from The Quiet Pond posting about Book Recommendations: Diverse Heist Stories (That aren’t SOC)