Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion Review

Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay ChampionSomeday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion

Publisher: KCP Loft

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Pages: 270

Summary: Dominique is a high school junior from a gritty neighborhood in Trenton, where she and her mom are barely getting by.

Ben is a musical prodigy from the Upper East Side, a violinist at a top conservatory with obsessive talent and a brilliant future.

When Dom’s class is taken to hear a concert at Carnegie Hall, she expects to be bored out of her mind. But then she sees the boy in the front row playing violin like his life depends on it — and she is transfixed.

Posing as an NYU student, Dom sneaks back to New York City to track down Ben Tristan, a magnetic genius who whisks her into a fantasy world of jazz clubs and opera, infatuation and possibility. Each sees something in the other that promises to complete them.

As Dom’s web of lies grows, though, so does Ben’s obsessive need to conquer Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata. But Ben’s genius, which captivates Dominique, conceals a secret, and the challenges of her life may make it difficult to help him.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Someday, Somewhere is a lyrical YA Contemporary that follows Ben and Dominique, their own separate journeys, and how the relationship they forge offers a bright light in a hazy, uncertain future! Eloquent writing, deeply complex characters, with a moving plot about family, love, self-growth, and chasing after your dreams!

Where to start with this book! I had my eye on Someday, Somewhere for a while and decided to finally pick it up!

It had me feeling so many things! Joy, sadness, heartbreak, acceptance!! This book has shattered me (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)♥♥

I just can’t believe this book is over!! I loved it so much!! ❤ ❤

I flew through Someday, Somewhere and it had me so emotional, from my attachment to the characters, the emotional depth woven throughout, etc! Champion’s YA Contemporary has easily become another one of my favorite reads of 2018 + made it onto my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary books!

Someday, Somewhere follows Dominique Hall, who lives in a poor neighborhood in Trenton, N.J. with her best friend Cass and then there’s Ben Tristian who lives in a wealthy area of New York, attending a prestigious music school, Brighton Conservatory.

The novel starts with Dom & her class attending a concert at Carnegie Hall for a field trip.

With the financial stress of her mother’s laundromat, Spin Cycle, her dreams of becoming a dancer + attending NYU becoming more fantasy than reality, her uncertainty of the future, and a million other uncertainties, she finds solace in Ben’s violin playing that moves her to tears.

I loved how the differing lifestyles/finances, were explored and discussed through Dom’s POV and how it clearly differed from Ben’s more privileged lifestyle! I don’t usually see that in YA Contemporary, so I’m glad it was really given enough page time to have it discussed.

Told through dual POV, the novel then follows Dominique as she & Cass work together to try and find Ben, so Dominique can put into words just how much his music meant to her.

As for Ben, a star violinist at Brighton, he just wants to prove himself as a great musician and be the best, as he practices Beethoven’s Kreutzer for the upcoming Sonata Showcase. This performance only features 12 students and if he gets in, it’ll prove all that he’s worked years for will finally lead him somewhere.

As Dominique finally gets a chance to meet Ben, the lies she shares, for fear of him not accepting who she really is, begin to build & build as their relationship develops.

However, over the course of the story Dom finds the courage to not only be honest with him, but also herself as they both forge an incredible relationship.

This novel focuses so much on finding oneself, as seen through Ben & Dom’s POVs. While Champion does a spectacular job at building each of the other characters, you really get into Ben & Dom’s heads and learn so much about their dreams, fears, and passion to follow their hearts.

Music weaves its way into this story in such a elegant way, especially through the writing. Seen through Ben’s POV, with his passion and drive for classical music, we see how its weaved into the way he views the world.

I loved the relationship that builds! Though some may see it as very quick progression, I found it just worked so well with the story, its characters, and when you get to the heart of Ben & Dom’s dynamic, its clear its so much more than meets the eye.

I loved both Dom & Ben equally! You find yourself rooting for each of them. With Dom’s bravery to seek out Ben, follow her dreams, and take chances, I loved her so much and she was such a great main character. As for Ben, with his passion to be a great musician, you understand, but you also feel heartache for him, when its clear at times he pushes himself too much.

Ben is overly confident and it shows through his inner thoughts when he’s critical of his classmates and people in his life. Dom is very hopeful, though she has fears for what is in the future, her persistence to follow her dreams continued to build throughout the entire story!

Overall I loved how complex and dynamic Ben and Dom were. They are very different, but you see this passion they both share and how it connects them. You really get to understand them so fully by the very end of the novel and I just wish there’d be another book with these 2!!

You see how much they find a freedom with each other to escape the complex obstacles they are facing in their own lives, and how their relationship gives them courage to have faith in themselves and I loved that so much! ❤

Their dates we’re so cute ❤ ❤ From their first official date at the Village Vanguard to see Jazz music and just seeing how they shined and saw the world just a little bit brighter with each other.

Though their is a romance that develops, it definitely is not the core of this story! Its more about Dom & Ben themselves, how they grow, think about their futures, and who they want to be and I loved that so much!!

The way Champion crafted her other characters from Dom’s POV such as her mother, estranged father, her best friend Cass, all are all explored and crafted so wonderfully that their personalities shine throughout the entire book.

As for Ben, while I found his parents to not be as developed, his brother Milo, classmates Claire, Carter, music instructor Yaz, and many other characters, were explored with such depth as well!

Champion really crafted her characters with such heart and they were so incredibly real and really came to life!

What really stood out to me about Someday, Somewhere was definitely the eloquent writing! As the novel focuses on music, the emotionally impactful writing brings such a realness and beauty to the story that elevates the characters and story even more!

I truly adored the writing and found it effortlessly weaved itself to bring such life to the main characters Ben & Dom.

As for diversity, Dominique is biracial (1/2 white + Ecuadorian), her best friend Cass is gay & black, and her father, Reg, who’s Ecuadorian.

This novel also explores mental health (bipolar disorder)! Though the topic of mental health is weaved into the novel through Ben’s POV very subtly, it definitely becomes a more prominent aspect to the story nearing the last 50 pages or so, when we learn he does have bipolar disorder!

The way its explored, is seen through Ben’s actions and his inner thoughts.

I truly fell in love with this book and recommend it if your looking for an eloquent, moving, and character-driven YA Contemporary!

I suppose my only minor issues, were a few characters that weren’t really developed and the ending (from Ben’s POV) did feel a bit rushed.

However, I adored the ending! It was hopeful and left me very emotional. Champion’s story had me feeling so many things from joy, to heartache, sadness–so many things!

Someday, Somewhere is a deeply moving YA Contemporary, with main characters you’ll fall in love with! With elegant writing, impactful messages, unique plot, and an incredible cast of characters, Champion’s debut is an incredible and powerful read!

Highly recommend it!

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Little Witch Academia Vol. 1 by Yoh Yoshinari Review {Manga}

Little Witch Academia Vol. 1Little Witch Academia Vol. 1 by Yoh Yoshinari & Keisuke Sato (Artist)

Publisher: Yen Press (Yen Press JY)

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Pages: 176

Summary: “Reach out your hand, and your story will begin!” 
Those words changed young Atsuko “Akko” Kagari forever, sparking in her a lifelong dream of becoming a real witch. Now she’s been accepted to the same school as her childhood hero, Shiny Chariot-the prestigious Luna Nova Witchcraft Academy. As the only student to come from a non-magical family, Akko finds herself surrounded by prodigies from around the world, but giving up isn’t in her vocabulary. Whether it’s making friends, proving the doubters wrong, or just flying on a broom, Akko is going to make her fantasy a reality!

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Little Witch Academia Volume 1 follows Akko who dreams of being a witch and finds herself attending the Luna Nova Witchcraft Academy! With fun adventures and a delightful cast of characters, this is a great start as an adaptation for fans of the show and those unfamiliar with the series!

Little Witch Academia is easily one of my all-time favorite animes! I watched it when it first was released as a short film and fell in love with it!

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it (start with the 2013 short) and then the series on Netflix! While the manga is definitely a great intro for those who’ve never seen it, the show is also just fantastic from the characters, world, story, etc. that you should definitely check it out (you won’t be disappointed)!

It basically follows Akko Kagari, who comes from a non-magical family, and her adventures as she attends Luna Nova, an all female school for witches. She’s always wanted to be a witch just like her childhood hero who inspired her, Shiny Chariot! She attends as one of only a couple non-traditional attendees at the school and makes new friends like Lotte & Sucy!

Though she gets into quite a bit of trouble, she doesn’t give up on her dream to become a witch and has such wacky adventures along the way!

From Akko’s first day, to a competitive volleyball match, the case of a mysterious broom by the name of The Shooting Star, & plan for a birthday party, she gets into some fun and interesting situations!

Just like in the anime, we meet familiar faces like Lotte & Sucy, the students Akko first meets that help her out on her way to Luna Nova & who end up becoming her best friends/roommates!

Then there’s Diana Cavendish, Akko’s “rival” who always butts heads with her! The two don’t get really get along, but there’s definitely moments where (while they don’t admit it) they see eye-to-eye on certain things & may even have more in common than they first assume!

And there’s also Amanda O’Neill, who’s a bit of a rebel and is a bit brash with Akko, but they definitely form a bond + beginnings of a friendship in this volume! (Their dynamic on the show is also really great 😍)

While the story mainly has an intro and various short adventure chapters, the ending leaves on mysterious note, where you learn a bit more about the school and are left wondering where Volume 2 will be headed!

The art was done just like it is in the show & if you ever see it in person, the cover design is so beautiful & colorful!

The characters personalities shine with each page and even if characters are shown for a short time, you really get a feel for who they are and the art/dialogue really captures the spirit of each character!

And for fans of the show, its also just a great addition to the Little Witch Academia universe! While it definitely goes in a bit of a different direction than the show & intro short, its still such a fun read!

Little Witch Academia Volume 1 is a fun, magical introduction & addition to the Little Witch Academia series! You’ll get immersed into the world of the Luna Nova Academy and as you follow Akko on all her adventures, you’ll definitely want Volume 2!

Book Bytes I #13

Book Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!
I’ve now split up the news into categories, to make it easier to jump to whichever book news you’d like to read about!

If there’s any book news I missed or any you want to discuss, definitely leave a comment!

Adaptation News

1.To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix Trailer

With the Netflix release of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before film releasing August 17, the first official trailer was revealed on June 21!

2.The Hate U Give Trailer

The Hate U Give film is set to be released October 19, 2018 and the first official trailer was released June 24!

Book Deals

1.The Other Side Of The Sky by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Set to be released in fall of 2020, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner will be teaming up to write The Other Side Of The Sky, with Harper Teen.

The Other Side Of The Sky is pitched as a “genre-bending romance where The 100 meets a Miyazaki-inspired fantasy world, in which the prince of a hi-tech city in the sky falls into a goddess’s ancient land ruled by magicians and prophecy” (Announced June 20).

2. Ink In The Blood by Kim Smejkal

Set to be released in fall of 2019 through HMH, is Kim Smejkal’s debut, Ink In The Blood.

Its pitched as a dark fantasy “about two friends who escape from a religious temple that they believe serves a false god, only to discover the god is quite real and is bent on revenge” (Announced June 20).

More Book Deals From June 18

3.The Last Witchdoctor by Rena Barron

Set to be released fall 2019 through Voyager UK & Harper Teen, The Last Witchdoctor is Rena Barron’s fantasy debut, with a 3-book deal.

With the story set in a West African-Inspired kingdom, it follows “a girl who is descended from a long line of powerful witchdoctors, yet fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors, and can’t cast the simplest curse. When her mother performs a ritual to conjure a better daughter, one who can wake a great and terrible Demon King, she must find a way to stop them from destroying the world” (Announced June 26).

4.The Summer I Learned Chinese by Lindsay Wong

Set to be released in summer 2020 through Simon Pulse, Wong’s YA Contemporary The Summer I Learned Chinese, “tells the story of a Chinese-American teen who takes a trip to Beijing to reconnect with her roots and find herself, after being dumped by her boyfriend and rejected from every college she applied to” (Announced June 26).

More Book Deals From June 25

Cover Reveals + Title Reveals

1.Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

As of June 1, Penguin Teen revealed the cover to Astrid Scholte’s 2019 debut standalone fantasy novel, Four Dead Queens.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte“Keralie Corrington is a talented pickpocket in the kingdom of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quadrant. For Quadara is a nation divided into four regions, each strictly separated from the other. Toria, the intellectual quadrant values education and ambition. Ludia, the pleasure quadrant values celebration and passion. Archia, the agricultural quadrant, values simplicity and nature. Eonia, the futurist quadrant values technology, stoicism and harmonious community. Four queens, one from each quadrant, rule as one.

When on Mackiel’s orders Keralie steals a particularly valuable item from a messenger, what seems like a routine theft goes horribly wrong. Keralie discovers she’s intercepted instructions to murder the queens. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit–valuable information that she can barter with–Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the messenger she stole from, to complete his delivery and uncover the would-be murderer. But with Keralie and Varin each keeping secrets–and the lives of the queens hanging in the balance–everything is at stake, and no one can be trusted.”

2.#RivetedRevealsWeek

As of June 4, Riveted Lit shared a post featuring cover reveals for their Spring 2019 YA Releases!

With covers being revealed from June 4-7!

3.The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

Revealed June 6 via Bustle was the cover for Arsdale’s upcoming Greek-mythology inspired novel, The Cold Is In Her Bones.

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale is set to be released January 22, 2019!

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale“The only life Milla has ever known is the quiet, isolated one on the family farm her strict and superstitious parents forbid her from leaving. Milla’s only saving grace is her brother, Niklas, who is her one and only friend. That is, until Iris, a girl from the village Milla has never been allowed to visit, moves into her elderly neighbor’s home. The two become fast friends, and it is Iris who tells Milla why her parents won’t let her leave: a demon is terrorizing the village, possessing girls one by one with no clear sign who could be next. That is why Iris’s parents sent her away, in an attempt to save her life… but it could be too late.

When the terrified townsfolk capture and imprison Iris with the other possessed girls, it’s up to Milla to rescue her friend and break the curse once and for all. But to do that, she will have to unravel the truth about her past, and quickly, because something in Milla is changing, and she may soon be a demon herself.”

4. Slayer by Kiersten White

Revealed on June 7 via EW, was the cover + excerpt for Kirsten White’s Slayer, which takes “readers back into the beloved world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…”

Slayer by Kiersten White is set to be released January 8, 2019!

5.You’d Be Mine Erin Hahn

Revealed through Hanh’s twitter June 8, was the cover to her April 2019 Contemporary debut, You’d Be Mine!

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn is set to be released April 19, 2019!

You'd Be Mine by Erin HahnAnnie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

6. Evermore by Sara Holland

The cover (alongside an excerpt) to Sara Holland’s sequel to Everless, titled Evermore was revealed on Bustle, June 13!

Evermore is set to be released December 31, 2018!

7.The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown

Revealed on LGBTReads Blog on June 20, was the cover to Jaye Robin Brown’s upcoming novel, The Meaning Of Birds!

“Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.”

The Meaning Of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown is set to be released April 16, 2019!

8. Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi

Black Enough edited by Ibi ZoboiThrough Barnes & Noble Teen Blog on June 20, the cover to Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America was revealed!

It is an anthology that features “stories by award-winning, bestselling, and emerging African American YA authors on what it’s like to be a black teen in America.”

The cover reveal also featured a Q&A with Ibi about the anthology and her upcoming novels!

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America is set to be released January 8, 2019!

9.Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Revealed on June 22 via Paste Magazine, was the new cover for Joanna Hathaway’s Dark Of The West!

Hathaway’s novel follows “a pilot and a princess on opposite sides of an impending conflict” and is set to be released February 5, 2019!

Dark Of The West by Joanna HathawayHe was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Cursein Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.”

10. Epic Reads Winter 2019 Cover Reveals

As of June 25 on the Epic Reads blog, they revealed a number of covers for some upcoming YA Releases set to be on shelves from this December through April 2019!

Some covers include: Angie Thomas’s On The Come Up, Evelyn Skye’s Circle Of Shadows, upcoming books from Kasie West, Mindy McGinnis, Cinda Williams Chima, & many more!

11. The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

The cover to Swati Teerdhala’s debut novel, The Tiger At Midnight was revealed via Bustle on June 25! Alongside the cover was also an excerpt!

The Tiger At Midnight is set to be released April 23, 2019!

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaEsha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.”

12. We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover to Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel We Hunt The Flame on June 26!

“Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man to kill in the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her village. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating men foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira were exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir showed any of the pity or compassion he felt, his father would dismiss him as weak. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya — but neither of them want to be. Their paths cross when Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can save their cursed world, and Nasir is sent to kill her. But an ancient evil stirs, and the prize may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.”

We Hunt The Flame is set to be released May 19, 2019!

13.Song Of The Dead by Sarah Glen Marsh

The sequel to Marsh’s YA Fantasy, Reign Of The Fallen, had its cover reveal via Bustle on June 27!

Song Of The Dead is set to be released January 29, 2019!

14. A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

On June 28, Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover (& excerpt) to Tahereh Mafi’s upcoming book, A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, which is set to be released October 16, 2018!

“It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.”

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1.Penguin Teen 2019 YA Preview

On Penguin Teen’s website, as of June 22, a post revealed upcoming 2019 YA releases  that the Penguin Teen team is looking forward to releasing!

Many include debut authors or anticipated releases from already released series/authors!

June 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina Vakueva1.Heavy Vinyl Volume 1 by Carly Usdin +Nina Vakueva (Heavy Vinyl #1)

Owned | Started/Finished June 1 |Rating: ★★★★★ | Heavy Vinyl Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A fun, diverse, graphic novel with so much girl power set in 90’s New Jersey! Heavy Vinyl follows Chris who works alongside her all-female co-workers at her local vinyl store. With anxiety, she wants to fit in with her new friends but hasn’t gotten the chance! That is until a case of missing singer introduces her to the world her co-workers have been hiding from her: their vigilante fight club! Now she’s tagging along with them to solve the mystery and maybe uncover more along the way! This is an incredible graphic novel that’s character-driven, diverse, and just a fun story! Friendship is at the heart of Heavy Vinyl and it really shows with each page. Additionally, there’s a lot of fantastic representation among the main cast/side characters: f/f & m/m relationships, lesbian rep., black & Puerto Rican rep., interracial relationships! I adored this graphic novel so much & highly recommend it!  I think there’s only 1 volume planned which is sad, because it ends on at place leaving you to want more from the story & characters, so definitely pick it up & support it, you won’t be disappointed!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters2.Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Owned| Started June 3 + Finished June 7 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½| Running With Lions Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A coming-of-age YA sports contemporary, that really focuses on characters! Sebastian Hughes is ready for his last summer of soccer training camp with his teammates, before senior year. However things get a bit complicated when his former friend, Emir Shah, shows up. Though regardless of their past, Sebastian is eager to make Emir feel at home! Through a 3rd person POV, the characters, plot, summer setting/atmosphere come to life! A huge aspect of this novel is the way Winters explores sexuality, with characters identifying as gay and bisexual + through the teammate’s support + acceptance of each other throughout the entire book! The characters really grow as they spend their time at Camp Haven and I loved seeing their friendship dynamics with each turn of the page! The plot, characters, etc. are all wonderfully developed and the pacing is great! Highly recommend checking out Winter’s debut!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl3. Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

ARC| Started June 9 + Finished June 12 |Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾| Neverworld Wake Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Neverworld Wake was an intriguing YA Contemporary that blends with science fiction! Beatrice Hartley gets the opportunity to reconnect with her friends from boarding school at an estate, since the year or so since her boyfriend Jim’s passing. But when a mysterious man arrives, he tells them they’ve been caught in the Neverworld Wake and only one person can make out alive by the end. The mystery that surrounded Neverworld and how the info was revealed was both delivered and explored at perfect moments throughout the story. While the plot and mystery remain such huge parts of the story, I did find myself not enjoying this book as much as I’d hoped. The writing (which is 1st person) never really made me find a connection to Bea as a character and with the simplicity to the writing, some elements of the story, like side characters were pretty forgettable. However, what definitely made Neverworld Wake an immersive read, was definitely the mystery, and exploration + complexities to the Neverworld!

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi4.Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

ARC| Started June 13 + Finished June 18 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½| Not The Girls You’re Looking For Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Aminah Mae Safi’s debut explores the complexities of family and friendship (especially female friendships) in her debut! I connected with Lulu, the main character, from the very first page! She’s outgoing, not afraid to speak her mind and I just–loved her character so much.  This novel explores the messiness of friendship in an honest + complex way, and its such a huge theme of the story. Safi really allows for both friendship & family to be explored, and I was able to really see the many different sides to these dynamics. The unique plot, themes explored, character dynamics, etc. all came together so wonderfully in Not The Girls You’re Looking For to make for such a fantastic YA Contemporary!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir5. A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

Library| Started June 19 + Finished June 25|Rating:★★★★☆| A Reaper At The Gates Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is very much a darker continuation to the An Ember In The Ashes series! Character development and lore/mythology are such huge parts of this book and really take center stage. I loved seeing the development and growth to Laia, Helene, and Elias. They are such phenomenal characters and you really see where their fates lead them in this book! War and the dark aftermath of it are explored in this novel and its just heartbreaking. While this was such a great book, I found for me personally that the pacing in the first 1/2 or so made this book a bit difficult for me to really love it as with the previous ones. With the pacing, I felt that with the urgency of the stakes that are given + alongside the writing that made side characters, setting, etc. feel a bit under-developed and not as fully immersive for me in previous books. However regardless of that, as soon as I reached the end, I needed the next book right away. So, I am beyond excited to read the final book and see what Sabaa has in store for the world/story of Ember! 

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #12

Audio Dime Museum Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Currently Reading & YA Books On My June 2018 TBR!

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye Exclusive Cover Reveal

Dark Ages Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Plans For July:

~READ MORE!! I feel like I just haven’t been reading much as I’d hoped (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) & before summer ends, really want to catch up on my TBR! If you have any tips to read more, definitely let me know!! 😭💕📚📚

~ Post more podcast reviews for Literary Listens! June was my first month posting audio drama podcast reviews & they were such fun posts to make!! I really hope to review/recommend more audio dramas next month too!! 🎙✨💖

~Continue working on my summer bullet journal 😍📒💕☀

What books did you read this month?? 😍📚

+ What are your bookish goals for July? Lets discuss in the comments!! ✨✨

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir Review

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa TahirA Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Pages: 464

Summary: Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

*A Reaper At The Gates review has major spoilers*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A Reaper At The Gates is a dark, haunting, and character-driven continuation to An Ember In The Ashes series! Character development, expansion on lore and mythology take center stage as war looms on the horizon!

Wow, where to start with this book! The characters grow so much throughout Reaper:  Laia, Elias, and Helene are faced with supernatural forces as they come to terms with the path that destiny has laid out for them!

To start I loved the immense growth we see from each of the main characters! There is so much internal development that they undergo from acceptance to heartache.

What I found so heartbreaking, was reading about the separation between Laia & Elias! With both of them on their own journeys and learning how they must accept or navigate the destinies/prophecies that are leading them closer to their fates.

Laia is now fighting to save her people, Helene must make sacrifices as she leads the way for battle, and Elias must choose between the people he loves and his role as Soul Catcher if he’s to prevent ghosts from taking over the mortal world.

I loved the development to dynamics with Helene, Harper, and Dex! Seeing how they help Helene as she tries to make her way back to Antium to take down the Commandant.

Their dynamics between Helene, Harper, and Dex (at least from what I remember from book 2), feel so much more developed in this book and we really see the powerful bond they’ve forged with each other throughout this journey.

Laia is on a quest to take down the Nightbringer and won’t let anything get in her way. She meets a new friend and reconnects with familiar faces along the way.

One of the new characters introduced, who I really loved was was Musa! He was Laia and Darin’s new friend who helps them on their way to come up with a plan against the Nightbringer! His page time was definitely cut earlier than I would have hoped, but I am beyond excited to see where his journey is headed in book 4!

I also wish Darin had more page time!

Aside from new characters, secrets are revealed, and there’s so much character development as the plot expands and what is set for the finale, is clear!

While A Reaper At The Gates definitely has its heartbreaking moments, the ending and parts throughout definitely remind us there is hope for the beloved characters we’ve followed so far! There is one scene in particular at nearing the end that really surprised me & I can’t wait to see where it leads a couple of our main characters!

Elias’s story focuses so much around his fate as the Soul Catcher and how his journey is about him letting go of his humanity to accept the role he has been chosen for.

It was heartbreaking to read how the love he has for his friends and family slowly had to fade away in order for him to accept the magic he needed as Soul Catcher in The Waiting Place.

I will admit, what makes this book so difficult for me to rate a full 5 is the pacing for the first half! Because of it, the stakes didn’t feel as high as with the previous books and it wasn’t until the last half (or a bit after) that I finally found the story picking up!

Because of that, there was a lot of elements from supporting characters to plot pacing that felt a bit off for me.

The writing made elements such as setting, supporting characters, etc. feel very under-developed, for me personally. But as I made my way to about the 50% mark, I definitely found myself connecting better with the story.

What broke my heart, honestly was ch. 53 (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) I’m still not over it!! As an avid RPG gamer, this chapter reminded me very much of a scene that’s similar in one of my favorite video games and it just–left me so emotional and devastated!!

The idea/themes of destiny and fate are explored so much in this book! I find that those themes always allow me to connect even more to a story because they are themes I just really love exploring and find they add so much to a story!

War and its lasting affects are also huge factors that are explored in the later 1/2 of Reaper and are so heart-breaking, but very much reflect the world today. Tahir explored these themes that leave you so impacted and shaken.

The mythology and lore of the world is also given center stage as they get woven in deeper not only into the story, but to the characters as well!

Tahir balanced mythology, character dynamics, plot, all so wonderfully that finally reaching the end, I am still unsure how I will be able to wait for Book 4!

A Reaper At The Gates is the epic continuation to Tahir’s, An Ember In The Ashes Series! The mythology, characters, themes and so much more all weave together to bring a tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat for the finale!

Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi ARC Review

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae SafiNot The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: June 19, 2018

Pages: 336 (327 ARC)

Summary: Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a YA Contemporary that explores with such complexity: friendships, love, family, and self-growth! Safi’s debut also seamlessly weaves in humor while navigating a complex and heavy topics!

Through a 3rd person POV, Safi’s debut centers around Leila “Lulu” Saad as she’s continuing to navigate her life + high school with her friends: Audrey, Lo, and Emma by her side!

But aside from high school there’s also family, friendships, and so many different facets to her life that are explored throughout the entire book! From the very beginning Lulu came to life on the page and with each and every moment, Safi continued to develop her character with so much depth!

I loved that there were just–so many different sides of Lulu’s life that are explored and seen throughout.

Friendship is a huge element of this book, obviously seen through Lulu and her core group of friends. As the friendship hits a few bumps along the way, it allows us to explore the complexities of it through Lulu’s eyes as she finds herself attempting to mend the conflict that has driven her friends apart.

Safi tackles the messy aspects of friendship in what I found to be an honest and complex way that is a big element to the story!

With Lulu a bit lost and unsure of how to mend and repair those bonds, it allowed for numerous amounts of page time of seeing Lulu’s complexity and the differing sides of her life!

It really allowed for me to connect to her even more and see her struggle to find a balance with various obstacles that appear as the story progresses.

Lulu was easily my favorite character of the entire book! She’s outgoing, reckless, sarcastic, and some would say “imperfect” but that’s what makes her such an incredible character!

She loves going out to parties, making out with guys, drinking + hanging out with her friends, etc. and I loved how she’s very outgoing and just always willing to have fun!

For me personally, at certain moments it definitely takes time to be very outgoing, but reading about Lulu and how confident she was, was just really inspiring and I just loved reading about a character who’s personality is different than mine but also very much like mine in ways too!

She is very much trying to find a space for herself, both as a biracial teen (white mother & Muslim + Iraqi father) finding where she fits in with her other family members, & overall just on her own.

I loved how Safi explored Lulu’s character and made it such a grounded element to the story!

Family is also a huge aspect to this book as Lulu confronts her uncertainties of her identity as she spends Ramadan with other family members and also explores the complex relationships/dynamics with them.

Additionally, I loved the sibling dynamics explored with her older brothers Ben & Reza. Though they aren’t present for the whole novel, their moments with Lulu are done so well as we see the sibling banter between them and as they try to help Lulu navigate the rift between her friends.

I also loved how integral her parents were! Her relationship with her mother and father is explored so well throughout the entire book. For me I did find the growth and development was slow and gradual and something that really took its time to develop and change, which I loved!

Also the way Safi crafted them as characters, their development/dynamic growth with Lulu and overall through Safi’s writing-style, they really did feel so real and I found them to be so memorable and real!

While there’s definitely memorable parents in YA Contemporary, there’s just something about Safi’s complex writing that added unique layers to Lulu’s parents, Aimee +Ahmed as well!

From family to friendship, Safi makes it clear that there’s so many differing sides and the dynamics and relationships we have with them aren’t just one sided and I loved how she explored that through her writing.

There’s also a character named James who Lulu finds herself falling for and I love how their relationship was developed! She finds herself really opening up to him over the course of the story before + after the obstacles with her friends arise!

She’s very outgoing + bold and it was great seeing that part of her shine through even more as she got to know him!

Plot-wise, it was very unique! There was never a moment where I knew where the plot was going and I found that made this reading experience so great!

From Lulu’s family life, school, celebrating Ramadan, etc. I loved the way Safi developed her plot while also making it both slow and fast paced & having work perfectly for the story!

Not The Girls You’re Looking For also discusses a number of complex/heavy subjects involving consent as it becomes a relevant topic to the overall story.

There’s just so much I loved about this book!! From the amazing focus on family and family dynamics that are so central to the story, importance of finding yourself, and the messy/complex dynamics of friendships!

Overall Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a must read YA Contemporary! It explores numerous topics from friendship, family, self identity, and so much more! Safi navigates the real and messy moments in life, while also balancing with the wonderful and memorable ones too!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters Review

Running With Lions by Julian WintersRunning With Lions by Julian Winters

Publisher: Duet Books (Interlude Press)

Release Date: June 7, 2018

Pages: 320

Summary: Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.

*Bought an early copy from Yallwest*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Running With Lions is a fantastic YA Contemporary! With a dynamic cast of characters and page-turning plot, this novel follows senior Sebastian Hughes, goalie for Bloomington High’s soccer team! This novel follows him and his teams summer at Camp Haven to train for their upcoming fall game! Winters explores the complexities of love, friendship, and finding oneself in this unforgettable YA Debut!

Running With Lions was a book I had been looking forward to for a while! From the amazing cover + summary, and focus on soccer!

What I love about this book is that it explores sexuality in such an open way.

“No exclusions around here…Be who you are! Be proud! Treat each other like family!”

Seeing the team + coaches being supportive of each other and just having that strong friendship between Sebastian, Mason, Willie, the other team members, and Grey, the coach’s daughter, was just amazing to read!!

Sebastian is ready for summer! Spending it with his teammates at Camp Haven to train for one last season of soccer together, he’s ready!

Though things get a bit complicated when Sebastian notices his childhood friend Emir Shah is also on the team this season. Emir keeps to himself and pretty much avoids the team when he can (due to his shyness).

Though Sebastian is aware that their friendship during childhood is now over, he tries to get through to him and make him feel more at home with the team.

From a rocky start to early morning runs and training sessions to improve on his soccer skills, Sebastian finds himself trying to connect with his old friend again. This soon leads to something more!

Seeing their dynamic develop as they learn more as to why they grew apart was such a deeply explored aspect to their relationship and it was great seeing how they were able to look past it, accept, and start again!

Emir was such a great character! Through the teams eyes he seems like someone who just doesn’t care, but that is not the case! We see how lonely Emir has felt since his sudden move to the UK caused his friendship with Sebastian to crumble.

However, we see that Sebastian’s courage to make him feel part of the team regardless of their past, really allows Emir to see the team as family!

Told through a 3rd person POV, it allows you to get an overall + in-depth look at the characters, plot and builds the setting/summer atmosphere, which comes to life on the page!

The characters all are written and explored with such depth that they also come to life from their first introductions!

Each and every character is written in such a way where you know so much about them from such few words and you really find yourself connecting with each of them!

We also see there’s so much more to these characters than when we are first introduced to them! Over the course of this novel, we see how their friendships/relationships change and grow as the summer at camp progresses!

There’s just so much development to the Bloomington High team and each character was given a great amount of page time, so were able to see the many different sides to these teammates!

I also really loved Grey Patrick (Coach Patrick’s daughter, who tags along at Camp Haven)! She was just such a great character and I loved her interactions/moments with the guys, like Sebastian & Mason!
She’s fierce and confident and overall she was such an amazing character! I also loved Willie, he was also one of my favorites!

Over the course of the novel Grey and Willie go through their own journeys, which are really given enough page time as we see them develop over the course of the story!

While its mentioned he has a knee injury in the beginning, we see how Willie’s soccer training develops and changes, as does the relationships + dynamics that grow among his friends/teammates throughout the book.

Both Grey & Willie’s journeys were given such interesting development and I loved following each of them throughout the book! Their personalities shined with each page!

There’s also such a diverse cast of characters, which was great to see!! Sebastian who identifies as bisexual, Emir who is pakistani-muslim + gay, Willie is gay, Hunter is black, & Gio is stated to be hispanic.

Winters also explores sexuality in such an open and honest way thorough out the entire novel! The team is very accepting and having that is so important to Sebastian as we see throughout Running With Lions.

Sebastian was such a complex main character! What I loved exploring through his POV (which I don’t see much of in YA), is life after high school and being unsure of what that future holds.

Winters explores this element so well throughout the entire book that it gradually becomes an even more recurring thought from Sebastian as he gets closer to the start of his Senior year!

Additionally, Winters explores so well the side of Sebastian who questions who exactly he is without soccer as the thoughts of college, the future, and the future of friends comes into play.

*I also recommend checking out Kris Hui Lee’s Out Of Left Field if your looking for another sports (baseball) YA Contemporary that discusses future after high school in a unique way * 

Running With Lions is fantastic Coming-Of-Age YA Contemporary that explores sexuality in an open and honest way! With a supportive cast of diverse characters, great writing, and themes of friendship throughout, this is a great YA Contemporary to check out!