Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire ARC Review

Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuireBeneath The Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: January 9, 2018

Pages: 160

Summary: Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

*Received an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Beneath The Sugar Sky is a colorful and charming continuation to the Wayward Children Series! Rini finds herself at Eleanor Wests home for Wayward Children looking for Sumi. Following some previous characters from Every Heart A Doorway, Beneath The Sugar takes you on a journey to the sweet and sugary world of Confection!

Though I don’t mention it much, ever since I read Every Heart A Doorway last year, its one of those books I always find myself thinking about & know it will forever hold a special place in my heart. However, there was just something about Beneath The Sugar Sky that just captivated me!

The story starts with Cora, a recent student who’s still fitting into Eleanor Wests Home For Wayward Children. She’s hanging out with her friend Nadya out by a small turtle pond near the home, when suddenly a girl named Rini falls from the sky, stating she came from the land of Confection and needs to find her mother, Sumi! If she doesn’t, Rini Onishi may cease to exist!

Now Cora & Nadya are leading Rini to talk to Kade (currently training to one day run his aunt Eleanor’s home) and Christopher, the boy with the bone flute who may hold the key to getting this journey into motion.

According to Rini they need to find Sumi’s body, essentially rebuild her and bring her back to life, to prevent Rini from disappearing and from travesty to conspire among Confection and hopefully allow Sumi (to live again) and Rini to reunite with her when the timeline is fixed.

I feel what truly made me love this book far more than the previous 2, was Kade & Chris! They are honestly my favorite characters of the entire series. They finally had more page time and I loved their banter + friendship so much! I kept thinking to myself as I was reading that I would honestly love an entire Wayward Children series just revolving around Kade & Chris! We learn much more about them as characters, got more depth to them, and their worlds than we did in Every Heart A Doorway and they just made this book so much fun to read!

Additionally as for diversity, from what I remember in Every Heart A Doorway not only do we have Kade who is trans, but it was mentioned Chris was Latinx, however what made this book so great was that McGuire specifically mentioned his ethnicity (Mexican). Overall I felt the representation for the characters of color Chris, Sumi & Rini (Japanese), were just better represented than in book 1 and I loved that!

It was also great to get even more expansion on the doors that kids go through, especially Kade & Christophers, and I felt the 3rd person narrative really brought further depth to Nonsense and Logic (as they became much more central in this novella, compared to Wickedness & Virtue). Above all, I felt because there was much more detail and depth brought to Nonsense + Logic, it further brought up many fascinating questions and new ideas surrounding all 4 types of worlds!

From candy corn fields to soda seas, and candy corn-colored eyes, the world of Confection was utterly marvelous and magical! The descriptions, characters, setting, all come to life as the mysteries of this peculiar world unravel. 

Beneath The Sugar Sky was just filled with adventure, descriptive writing that shows McGuire’s growth as a writer with this series. The writing also just brought me back to the magic I felt with Every Heart A Doorway, reintroduced and mentioned favorite characters from the previous books and overall was a great addition to the series!

I suppose my only issues with this novel in particular was the bit of adult humor. It just felt odd with the overall tone and carry-on of the series so far. To me, it just personally felt out of place. Additionally, I felt Cora’s character didn’t really click with the rest of the story. I felt she was pretty underdeveloped compared to the other characters, especially one’s introduced for a much shorter amount of time.

+ From what I read on twitter when I posted a pic. of my ARC, is that Seanan McGuire said that this isn’t the end (though I assumed it was 😂😭) of the Wayward Children Series! 💕🎉🚪✨

Colorful, whimsical, character-driven, and filled to the brim with adventure, Beneath The Sugar Sky follows a dynamic cast of characters  you will fall in love with as they go a on a journey through a sweet, dark, magical, and wondrous world to save an old friend!

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dystopia

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic Novels

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

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

Magical Realism

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

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

Urban Fantasy

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

Summary:Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

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

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

Latinx YA Books 2018

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

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 🙂

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes Review

The Arsonist by Stephanie OakesThe Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Publisher: Dial Books (PenguinTeen)

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Pages: 493

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating:★★★★☆

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Blog Discussion: 2017 Wrap-Up

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

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

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

1.Books Read In 2017

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

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

72 Books 🎉📚📚

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

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

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker

A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

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

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

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

2.Book Blogging Accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.Misc. Bookish Accomplishments

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

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

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

~Holding my first ARC Giveaway 

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

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

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

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

5. Most Popular Book Blog Posts

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

Life After Legend by Marie Lu Review

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

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

Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia Review

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

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

Any you hope to reach in 2018? 😁📚✨🎉

M.F.K.: Book One by Nilah Magruder Review

M.F.K. by Nilah MagruderM.F.K.: Book One by Nilah Magruder

Publisher: Insight Comics

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Pages: 129

Summary:A fantastic adventure following the story of Abbie, a deaf girl with a mysterious power, who is traveling across a vast desert to scatter her mother’s ashes.

In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity.

This story is not about that youth.

It’s about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter’s Spine and scatter her mother’s ashes. But the way is filled with sandstorms, wild beasts, and rogues that wield inhuman powers and prey on poor desert dwellers. When one of these rogues threatens the town where Abbie takes refuge, she must choose between running, or unleashing her own hidden power to meet danger head-on.

Journeys are hard on the social recluses of the world. 

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: M.F.K.: Book One is an intriguing graphic novel with a delightful cast of characters, colorful + wonderfully illustrated artwork, and sets up for an epic-fantasy adventure in future volumes!

Magruder’s M.F.K. immediately pulled me in with the vibrant and rich colors and the unique desert setting!

The story starts with Jamie and his grandfather gathering sand during a sandstorm on the outskirts of their desert town of Little Marigold.

Jamie soon spots Abbie, a young girl who’s carrying an urn of her mother’s ashes & is making a journey across the desert to scatter them. While joined by her Moa (giant bird), Abbie has been gravely injured and is in need of medical attention.

Abbie wakes to find herself being cared for by Jamie’s aunt, Nifrain. While spending her time recovering, she learns about the town + Jamie & his family.

It turns out the residents of Little Marigold have been constantly bullied by Parasai (or those with supernatural abilities) and are forced to give goods to them or risk their anger.

She quickly sees just how rudely they treat the residents and we soon learn that she herself is a Parasai that’s gone rogue!

M.F.K. is such a diverse graphic novel, from the cast being characters of color to our main character Abbie who uses a hearing aid! I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel with a deaf main character before & it was just so great to see that representation! 

The plot itself is slow but in a way that really works with the story. Based on the summary it very much gives a broad scope of the overall story, and having finished M.F.K., its obvious there’s a larger story in the works.

I absolutely loved all the main characters introduced! They are really given such depth and you feel you know them just from this 1st volume! From Jamie with his optimistic and upbeat personality, to the differing sides of aunt Nifrain. I also really loved Jamie & Nifrain’s comedic sides & the banter/friendship that develops between Abbie & Jamie! ❤

We learn much more about Jamie and his past (where his parents are & how he hopes to one day go on adventures) as he and Abbie get to know each other better while she recovers to continue on her journey!

 The main fantasy elements are expanded on nearing the end of the story and while its very much an introduction, I did want a little bit more background to how they came about. 

This is really wonderfully developed and immersive graphic novel that had me eager for the next one as soon as I reached the end! It does have its emotional and somewhat dark moments, but definitely has an upbeat adventure feel throughout & its comedic moments! Overall it just left me captivated and intrigued in this fantasy world!

M.F.K.: Book One is a vibrantly colored and illustrated story, with an intriguing  plot+ fantastic cast of characters that immerse you from the very beginning! If your looking for a diverse, comedic, magical, and mysterious graphic novel, M.F.K. is one to definitely check out!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum Review

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

Publisher: Imprint (FierceReads)

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Pages: 320

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

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

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

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The City Of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty Review

The City Of Brass by S.A. ChakrabortyThe City Of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Pages: 528

Summary: Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass? A city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The City Of Brass is an enchanting and immersive fantasy debut! We follow Nahri as she embarks to the City Of Brass and learns more about who she is! There’s politics, intrigue, vivid world-building, and a richly plotted tale that will take you on a grand adventure!

Set in 18th century Cairo, The City Of Brass follows Nahri, a thief who uses her tricks as a con artist, abilities to speak a number of languages (even ones where she is unaware of their origins) and her ability to sense ailments or sickness in people, just to get by.

When she gets called to heal a young girl by the name of Baseema, whose been possessed by a djinn, or more specifically an ifrit, she soon finds herself being attacked by ifrit and ghouls, until Dara, an ancient djinn warrior comes to her rescue!

He helps her flee and tells her that she’s being followed and it won’t stop until she’s safe in Daevabad, the legendary City Of Brass.

She’s never believed in magic, regardless of the tales she hears, but that all changes when she embarks on her grand adventure!

While on their way to The City Of Brass, Nahri learns more about her origins as both she & Dara learn more about each other and of the magic + history of Daevabad.

What really surprised me about this novel aside from the intricate plot, was the dual POV! I was not expecting it and it really brought depth to the overall story and you can’t help but fall in love with both of our narrators, Nahri & Ali.

We have Nahri, the main character to who finds herself leaving her home in Cairo behind to reach the City Of Brass and Alizayd al Qahtani, a prince of Daevabad who lives within the City Of Brass.

Additionally, a few prevalent themes I found in this novel was identity and acceptance. As Nahri learns more about her origins, we see her coming to accept this new identity and past she never knew she had. Yet, we also see how she struggles to understand who she is as she finds herself forcing to adapt to this new identity in the City Of Brass.

As for Ali, he knows he will always have his fascination for the human world and not be the outgoing or forceful ruler as his brother Muntadhir, but accepts that he is well aware he wants to bring change to his city and will do what he can.

Throughout the story, we also learn more about Ali’s family, like his brother, sister, and father, and the stark differences that make Ali feel like he doesn’t belong and the change he hopes to bring to Daevabad if he is to ever become ruler.

I also really loved how Chakraborty built Narhi and Ali’s development when they slowly start to build a friendship, how alike they really are and how they find where they belong in their world.

I loved following both of them on their own individual journeys and seeing how their stories intertwine as the story progresses.

While both Nahri & Ali are equally fascinating & compelling characters, I couldn’t help but really love Ali!! He’s smart, shy, and underestimated at points throughout, but just wants to do whats right for the city and his people.

I really find stories surrounding djinn to be so fascinating and this novel really builds a rich history into this 19 century setting, from the culture of the djinn, differing tribes, to Suleiman & his seal. Additionally, what also drew me to this book aside from intriguing summary, was the mention that it was perfect for fans of The Golem And The Jinni (one of my all-time favorite books 💕)

While this novel is more fast-paced, I definitely found that elements of this novel really reminded me of The Golem And The Jinni and can see why they were compared!

I’ve always been hesitant with 3rd person POV, but Chakraborty easily weaves in both Nahri and Prince Ali’s POV’s beautifully as they build both the setting and history of the world, not only of 19th century Cairo, but of Davebad too!

Through the writing-style you really get a wide scope of not only the world, but the characters too and can’t help but connect with them as you learn more about their past and their own agendas.

The characters and mystery of the plot were just some of the many aspects that I adored about The City Of Brass so much! ❤ ❤

The overall world and atmosphere of the story is immersive and magical. The City Of Brass was one of those novels, for me, that really took me on an adventure and just immersed me into such a complex and dazzling world!

I’m also a big fan of politics woven throughout fantasy tales, and this novel really makes it such an integral part of the story (especially through Ali’s POV). From the inner workings of the palace as Ali tries to keep his own secrets hidden, to the politics that surround the differing djinn as they live in Davebad.

The plot is rich and there’s so much depth to it, once you reach the last page, you just have to know more!

My only issue was that the plot did start to get slow-paced at some points throughout and was hoping for some more depth to Dara and the writing at points to expand on certain aspects of the plot.

The City Of Brass is a richly woven tale with politics, fascinating world-building, and a stellar cast of characters! You’ll find yourself turning the page as you become enchanted with the mysterious and immersive city of Davebad!

This is not a debut to miss!