Waiting On Wednesday │ #11

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly blog feature to showcase & spotlight upcoming book releases!

It was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spines

It’s been a little over a year since I did this feature, but I’m incredibly excited to be sharing today’s book with you! Mainly because its a sequel to one of my favorite Epic Fantasy debuts of last year (and of all-time) 💖💞🎉

This week I’m spotlighting…

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

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Pages: 496

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Realm Of Ash by Tasha Suri

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

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

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

To say I’m merely waiting for this book is an understatement…I’m counting down the days, reading any & all quotes/updates/tweets Tasha shares periodically on her twitter, and I’m just filled with an indescribable feeling of anticipation until this book graces me with its presence!

Realm Of Ash is the sequel to easily one of my favorite epic fantasy debuts of 2018, Empire Of Sand!

EOS is set in a world inspired by Mughal India and follows strong-willed, clever, and inspiring protagonist Mehr, who’s the daughter of a governor has magic in her blood due to her mother being Amrithi!

After using her abilities, Mehr and her family are put in danger! But Mehr makes the brave decision to stay behind (meaning her father, stepmother, and little sister Arwa have to leave) and make a deal to ensure their safety by joining the Mystics at their temple.

She’s told to marry Amun, one of the mystics, but its clear that the two are fighting for the same thing, freedom! Over the course of the novel the two forge a powerful bond and remind one another that there is still hope! Empire Of Sand brilliantly weaves in themes of identity, choice, love, family, faith, and much more through Suri’s descriptive and immersive writing!

I think that’s as much as I can say without spoiling too much of EOS, so if you haven’t read this yet, please do and come back so we can discuss (I need more people to talk about this amazing book with!)

So back to Realm Of Ash, this is a sequel set many years after EOS following Arwa, Mehr’s younger sister, her empire is crumbling and the only possible hope for peace is journeying to the realm of ash! Alongside her journey she’ll be joined by an illegitimate prince who uses forbidden magic! But the journey will force them to question things about the empire they’ve grown up in their entire lives…

There are many things I want to discuss, but I really don’t want to spoil EoS, so if your looking forward to Realm Of Ash, keep an eye out for a Bookish Theories post!

I’m so ready to see Arwa go on her own epic adventure and based on Tasha’s tweet it tells me the very important details I need to know about Realm Of Ash, like the “soft Ravenclaw illegitimate prince” 😂💙🎉

I am incredibly excited to see where Tasha takes this series next in one of my most anticipated sequels, Realm Of Ash! 💙💙

Have you read Empire Of Sand? Are your looking forward to this sequel? What’s your Waiting On Wednesday book? 📚

Advertisements

Latinx Book Recommendations For Your 2019 TBR!

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ Latinx Heritage Month has recently begun and to celebrate, I’d love to share a list of #OwnVoices books written by Latinx authors you should add to your TBR!

This year I’m making it even bigger, even though my blog primarily focusing on YA, I’d love to highlight even more genres/categories this year from YA to SFF, Poetry, and more!

I’ll also be featuring a “Backlist Boost” with as many books as I can to promote more Latinx authors & their books!

Which Latinx books are on your TBR? Any on this list your looking forward to reading? 📚✨

Contemporary (Young Adult):

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes1. Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 18, 2018

Summary: Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

↠ ARC Review: Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes (5 stars)

Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez2. Barley Missing Everything by Matt Mendez

Publisher: March 5, 2019
Release Date: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (Simon Teen/Riveted Lit)

Summary: Juan has plans. He’s going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself—or at least find something better than his mom Fabi’s cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.

His best friend JD has plans, too. He’s going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He’s got a camera and he’s got passion—what else could he need?

Fabi doesn’t have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don’t always pan out, and that there some things you just can’t plan for…

Like Juan’s run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.

Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise­–like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can’t plan for…

↠ Backlist Boost: American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz3. Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 20, 2019

Summary: Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite4. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika & Maritza Moulite

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

↠ Backlist Boost: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

↠ ARC Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine (4 Stars)

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno5. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Summary: Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

↠ Book Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos (4.5 Stars)

The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera6. The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: February 21, 2017

Summary: THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

The Fall Of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez7. The Fall Of Innocence by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: June 12, 2018

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.

Backlist Boost: Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante8. The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)
Release Date: June 11, 2019

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Marisol Morales and her little sister Gabi are detainees of the United States government. They were caught crossing the U.S. border, to escape the gang violence in their country after their brother was murdered. When Marisol learns that the old family friend who had offered them refuge in America has died and they are going to be sent home, they flee.

They hitchhike, snagging a ride with an unassuming woman who agrees to drive them to New Jersey, but when Marisol wakes up in D.C. she learns the woman is actually a government agent. Indranie Patel has a proposal for Marisol: she wants Marisol to be a Grief Keeper, someone who will take another’s grief into their body. It’s a dangerous experimental study, but if Marisol agrees she and Gabi will be allowed to stay in the United States. If the experiment fails the girls will be sent home, which is a death sentence. Things become more complicated when Marisol meets Rey, the wealthy daughter of a D.C. Senator, and the girl she’s helping to heal. Marisol likes Rey’s short hair and sarcastic attitude. But she didn’t expect the connection from their shared grief to erupt into a powerful love.

Suddenly being forced from the United States isn’t just a matter of life and death, but a matter of the heart.

The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey9. The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: October 8, 2019

Summary: From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.

While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.

Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.

The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess10.The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

Publisher: Flux (Flux Books)
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: Victoria Parker knew her dad’s behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine—until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights.

Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden.

But some secrets won’t stay buried—especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can’t stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won’t leave you alone?

The Resolutions by Mia Garcia11. The Resolutions by Mia Garcia

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Teen)
Release Date: November 13, 2018

Summary: New Years are for fresh starts, but Jess just wants everything to go back to the way it was.

From hiking trips, to four-person birthday parties, to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable—and unstoppable. But now, with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been splintering off and growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them for each other—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, show your paintings, learn Spanish, say yes to everything.

But not even the best laid plans can take into account the uncertainties of life. As the year unfolds, Jess, Ryan, Nora, and Lee each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heart breaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.

↠ Backlist Boost: Even If The Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos12. The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school–who happens to be trans–all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.

↠ Backlist Boost: The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues13. The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 19, 2019

Summary: Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.

In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.

And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.

And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.

And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:

Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his friends and making money to help support his family.

But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.

↠ ARC Review: The Universal Laws Of Marco (4.5 Stars)

Dystopia & Sci-Fi (Young Adult):

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera1. Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: March 5, 2019

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

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. 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 for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other 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 do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl2. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl (The Last 8 #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 5, 2019

Summary: Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia3. We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (WSTFDOF #1)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Epic Reads)
Release Date: February 26, 2019

Summary: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

↠ ARC Review: We Set The Dark On Fire (4 Stars)

Graphic Novels:

Hotel Dare by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre1. Hotel Dare by Terry Blas (Writer), Claudia Aguirre (Artist), & Mike Fiorentino (Letterer)

Publisher: Boom! Studios
Release Date: June 11, 2019

Summary: It’s not your typical family vacation when Olive, and her adopted siblings Darwin and Charlotte find themselves falling into other worlds as they explore Grandma Lupé’s strange hotel.

OPEN THE DOOR. ADVENTURE AWAITS.

Olive and her adopted siblings Charlotte and Darwin are spending the summer with their estranged grandma at her creepy hotel and it’s all work and no play. They’re stuck inside doing boring chores but they soon stumble upon an incredible secret… Behind each room door of the hotel lies a portal to a different strange and mysterious place. The simple turn of a knob transports them to a distant magical world filled with space pirates. Behind the next door are bearded wizards. Down the hall is a doorway to a cotton-candied kingdom. But once the doors are opened, worlds start colliding, and only one family can save them before they tear themselves apart.

Skip by Molly Mendoza2. Skip by Molly Mendoza

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.
Release Date: July 23, 2019

Summary: A colorful, unpredictable postapocalyptic world comes alive in Skip, when two unlikely friends, Bloom and Gloopy, find themselves tossed from dimension to dimension. Gloopy is running toward adventure, and away from their home and friends who don’t understand their creative talent. Bloom is desperately trying to return home to their lake, and avoid the terrible violence of the city. Instead, both Bloom and Gloopy find what they need in each other, and bravely return home to challenge their fears and create beauty in their own worlds.

As Bloom and Gloopy skip through dimensions and encounter weeping giants, alligator islands, and a topsy turvy 2D world, they find comfort in each other and learn that sometimes, your greatest fear reveals where your strengths lie.

Magical Realism (Young Adult):

All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry1. All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: October 10, 2017

Summary: Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

↠ Backlist Boost: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
↠  Book Review: All The Wind In The World (4 Stars)

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore2. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 9, 2018

Summary: The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

↠ ARC Review: Blanca & Roja (4.5 Stars)

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore3. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: October 4, 2016

Summary: To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

↠ Backlist Boost: The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Middle Grade:

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano1. A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (Love Sugar Magic #1)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Summary: Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

↠ Book Review: Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble (5 stars)

Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy2. Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy

Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Release Date: April 30, 2019

Summary: Eleven-year-old Carolina’s summer–and life as she knows it–is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter’s house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene.

Just as Carolina worries she’ll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela’s shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become.

But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and–to everyone’s surprise–Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?

The Other Half Of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel3. The Other Half Of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: August 20, 2019

Summary: Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole.

One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana’s Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn’t know more about her family’s heritage.

One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she’s found true friends. But she can’t help the growing feelings she has for Jayden.

One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what’s going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother.

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes4. The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes (The Storm Runner #1)

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Release Date: September 18, 2018

Summary: Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He’d much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno — for his one good leg. What Zane doesn’t know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy.

A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he’s destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in — unless she can find and remove it first. Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane. When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can’t even walk well without a cane?

Mystery/Thriller (Young Adult):

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal1. Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: June 4, 2019

Summary: Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring2. The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Publisher: Imprint (Fierce Reads)
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Summary: At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Poetry:

Chula by Amanda Alcántara1. Chula by Amanda Alcántara

Publisher: Self-Published via Amanda Alcántara
Release Date: March 21, 2019

Summary: “Chula” is an imaginative bilingual collection of intimate poems, short stories, memories and vignettes about the life of a Dominicana before and after moving to the United States.

Dealing with childhood curiosities, struggles faced by women, identity, pleasures, heartache, and joy, this work is an exploration of self.

↠ Backlist Boost: Nocturna by Maya Motayne (Dominican YA Fantasy)

The Carrying by Ada Limón2. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón

Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Release Date: August 14, 2018

Summary: Vulnerable, tender, acute, these are serious poems, brave poems, exploring with honesty the ambiguous moment between the rapture of youth and the grace of acceptance. A daughter tends to aging parents. A woman struggles with infertility—“What if, instead of carrying / a child, I am supposed to carry grief?”—and a body seized by pain and vertigo as well as ecstasy. A nation convulses: “Every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza, something brutal.” And still Limón shows us, as ever, the persistence of hunger, love, and joy, the dizzying fullness of our too-short lives. “Fine then, / I’ll take it,” she writes. “I’ll take it all.”

↠ Backlist Boost: Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón
↠  Book Review: The Carrying: Poems (5 Stars)

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: Harper Teen (Epic Reads)
Release Date: March 6, 2018

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.

↠  Backlist Boost: The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (Middle Grade in verse)
↠  ARC Review: The Poet X (4.5 Stars)

SFF:

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes1. Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes (Chilling Effect #1)

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: September 17, 2019

Summary: Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Gods Of Jade And Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia2. Gods Of Jade And Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 23, 2019

Summary: The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

The Tiger's Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera3. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Their Bright Ascendancy #1)

Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 3, 2017

Summary: Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

And there’s my list of Latinx book recommendations! This was such a fun list to make and as a reader from a Latin-American background I can’t put into words how amazing it is to see this list of books grow with each year 😭💖📚📚

Many of these I have yet to read, but I’m excited!! My plan is to get to them during Latinx Heritage Month and throughout the rest of 2019–📚📚🎉

What Latinx Books are on your TBR? Any other book recommendations for Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month? 😍📚✨

I also recommend checking out these amazing Latinx read-a-thons going on currently, that are being hosted by great Latinx book reviewers in the community: Latinx Book Bingo & Latinx-A-Thon (ends Sept. 24)

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill ARC Review {Graphic Novel}

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O'NeillThe Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (Tea Dragon Festival #2)

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Pages: 136

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Tea Dragon Festival

Summary: Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

*Requested ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Tea Dragon Festival is both a delightful and captivating companion to The Tea Dragon Society!  Rinn, aspiring to be a cooking apprentice, loves collecting ingredients for the locals in their village! After an encounter with a sleeping dragon, Rinn sets off on a series of adventures as the Tea Dragon Festival is just around the corner! Enchanting art, alongside an equally captivating story with beautiful messages will make your heart soar as you turn the page in Katie O’Neill’s next Tea Dragon tale!

After finishing The Tea Dragon Festival, I truly need more TEA DRAGON content in my life, this series carries such a special place in my heart! 😭🧡✨🐉🌿

I originally read The Tea Dragon Society as a webcomic in 2017 and fell in love with it from page 1! Not only did it introduce me to the beauty of webcomics, but it also got me back into graphic novels and it still remains as one of my all-time favorite graphic novel series!

Going into this companion all I knew was that it was essentially a prequel and would include cameos from Tea Dragon Society characters! From its opening pages, I was whisked away into the world of The Tea Dragon Festival by not only the art, but also its opening line:

“At the nearest station, trains come once a week…” (7).

The kind-hearted Rinn lives with their grandmother and travels the surrounding forests and plains of Silverleaf Village to collect ingredients for not only family, but local townsfolk!

Journeying into the forest with a pouch, adorable Fennel tea dragon, and list of ingredients (with one they can’t seem to find by the name of goatshorn) Rinn stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned house in the forest!

Their in for a quick surprise when it turns out a dragon lives there! Not only that, but the dragon Aedhan has been asleep for over 80 years! With his destined task to look over the festival and protect the village, he’s left sad at the time that’s been lost. However…

Rinn invites Aedhan to town and with that, allow him to feel more at home!

As Aedhan adjusts to this jump in time, he also comes to learn more about the community and feel a sense of belonging. We learn he’d been tasked by his ancestors many years ago and that now, he feels pain for those he’s lost during his sleep. But Aedhan quickly finds a powerful friendship in Rinn (alongside their family) and finds a place to call home.

There’s something special about stories like this that evoke a quiet and endearing tale, while immersing you in a compelling and fantastical world…

What I loved about this prequel is that not only did it build more into the lore and history of both tea dragons & dragons, but also gave this sense of expansion to the world of the Tea Dragon universe in ways I can’t really put into words.

I feel though, that has to do with how O’Neill brings together two important elements! The art and story meld together to present an utterly timeless tale that offers so many beautiful messages about family, community, friendship, and much more!

Let’s talk for a minute about O’Neill’s art! While its no surprise that I adore her art-style I really payed more attention to the colors, paneling, and emotion evoked in The Tea Dragon Festival!

Every panel is weaved with a beautiful array of color that brings to life the dense and whimsical forests, the open fields, the sunsets, open sky, and and timeless magic of nature!! 🌿🌸✨

I internally screamed when seeing Erik & Hesekiel again and the little Easter Eggs it left for those who read and adored The Tea Dragon Society, like myself!

The writing is phenomenal! I loved the story in The Tea Dragon Society, but The Tea Dragon Festival is a fantastic on a completely different level and readers will not be disappointed! The writing flows wonderfully with the soft, colorful art and I can’t tell you how many times I stopped to write down some of the beautiful quotes woven throughout this book!

The art also beautifully portrays a diverse and inclusive setting (feat. Non-binary protagonist Rinn, characters of color, and Sign Language, and messages of the fluidity of gender). Alongside that, the color and soft detail, immerse you in a wondrous setting focused on nature (there’s a magic to it that just comes to life through O’ Neill’s art).

The story itself is perfectly paced and with my anticipation to get back into this lovely world, every page I was ready to see what would happen next (I also appreciated how there were more pages in this companion 💖). From forest adventures, magical creatures, moments of quiet and everyday life, festival planning, cooking, and much more, this graphic novel also has a cast of characters that will capture heart!

There’s themes of identity, friendship, family, appreciating your talents and skills (even if they come easily), and the power in community!

If you haven’t read The Tea Dragon Society, please pick it up if you love stories about friendship, are looking to learn more about the tea dragons, and are interested in seeing where Hesekiel and Erik end up together! Then, after that, pick up this companion 😆💖🌿🐉✨ Though these can essentially be read in any order, I recommend reading them in release order (Tea Dragon Society first).

The Tea Dragon Festival is a must-read! Through whimsical storytelling grounded in truth, a diverse cast, and charming characters, this tale will captivate you from page 1! There’s a uniqueness O’Neill’s art-style alongside the equally wonderful story, beautifully explored themes and delightful ensemble cast of characters! This companion to The Tea Dragon Society will leave you wanting more once you’ve reached the last page!

Graphic Novel & Comic Recommendations Featuring Women Of Color

This past weekend it was D23 (an expo to showcase/celebrate Disney properties + announce upcoming Disney projects)! One of those projects that had many (including myself) incredibly excited was that there is now a live-action series for Ms. Marvel in the works for Disney+.

To celebrate that announcement, I’m sharing a list of comics and graphic novels featuring women of color! A lot of these series are ones that have really stuck with me with their immersive stories, wonderful artwork and above all, feature inspiring female leads!

831. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (artist)

Publisher: Marvel

Release Date: October 28, 2014

Summary: Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey! 

I remember when I first getting back into graphic novels, this was a series I picked up in my early days as a book blogger (2015) and fell in love with it! Not only was it the first female-led superhero series I’d ever read, but also I loved that it had a diverse lead (Muslim & Pakistani-American). Also, after looking at my Goodreads, I really need to catch up on this series! I can’t wait to see how the Disney+ series turns out, looking forward to seeing Kamala on screen! ⚡❤

Sera And The Royal Stars Issue 12. Sera And The Royal Stars by Jon Tsuei, Audrey Mok (artist), Raúl Angulo (colorist),  Jim Campbell (letterer), & Tim Daniel (design)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: July 17, 2019 (issue #1) & Jan. 2020 Vol. 1

Full Review: Sera And The Royal Stars Issue #1

Summary: Civil war rages in the Empire of Parsa, and famine has struck. As the seasons refuse to turn, Princess Sera receives a vision from the deity Mitra telling her to find the Royal Stars and restore them to the heavens. Despite her kingdom and her troops’ need of her command, Sera embarks on a quest to find the fallen stars-now trapped on earth-and save her people from dearth and death.

Its been such a long time since I’ve found myself reading comic/graphic novel series and keeping up with them regularly, that is until, I discovered Sera And The Royal Stars! The first issue introduces colorful and detailed artwork, the world of Parsa is expansive, and I can’t wait to see where Princess Sera’s epic journey takes her next as she embarks on a quest at the height of her country’s civil war! This is a fantastic series and I highly recommend picking it up if you love fantasy tales with ancient prophecies, epic journeys, immersive world-building, and more! 💖💫

goldie-vance-vol-13. Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson (writer) & Brittney Williams (artist)

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Full Review: Goldie Vance Volume 1

Summary: GOLDIE VANCE IS ON THE CASE

Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance has an insatiable curiosity. She lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place, and it’s her dream to one day be the hotel’s in-house detective. When Walter, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, together they utilize her smarts, skills, and connections to solve the mystery…even if it means getting into a drag race, solving puzzles, or chasing a helicopter to do it!

If your looking for a fun, 1960’s-set graphic novel filled with mystery and featuring a diverse cast (biracial, queer, & Black rep!) pick this series up! I’ve only read volume 1, but I really want to get back into this series again because I love mystery stories! 🔍🌟

M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder4. M.F.K.: Book One by Nilah Magruder (author & artist)

Publisher: Insight Comics

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Full Review: M.K.F.: Book One

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.

This is one of those graphic novels that in my opinion, is highly underrated! It has a lot of diverse representation within its main cast (featuring brown-skinned characters and Abbie, the MC, is deaf). I fell in love with this incredibly unique and moving story about Abbie who’s trekking across the desert alongside her giant pet bird, to spread her mother’s ashes! The artwork is beautifully illustrated and introduces so many different elements from some sci-fi/fantasy and is incredibly character-driven as she finds refuge in a small town and makes new friends! I remember reading MFK: Book One back in 2017 and was so excited to pick up the next volume, I haven’t heard much about a continuation recently but I do hope to one day see another installment of this wonderful series! 💖🏜

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin

5.The Avant Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin (writer), Noah Hayes (artist), Rebecca Nalty (Colorist), & Ed Dukeshrire (Letterer)

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Summary: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this upcoming series and I’m counting down the days until its release! I’ve also been wanting to get into more sports-related stories and this one looks fantastic- not only does it feature a diverse cast, but its also about a women’s basketball team, and has a lot of queer representation! The Avant-Guards looks incredible and I’m hyped to read it when its finally out on shelves! 🏀🎉

And that’s my list of comic and graphic novel recommendations featuring women of color! I highly recommend checking out all of these wonderful female-led series and adding them to your TBR if you haven’t already! 📚❤

Are any of these on your list? Do you have any other recommendations you think I should check out? 📚✨🎉

Sera And The Royal Stars #1 by Jon Tsuei Comic Review

Sera And The Royal Stars Issue 1Sera And The Royal Stars #1 by Jon Tsuei, Audrey Mok (Artist), Raúl Angulo (Colorist),  Jim Campbell (Letterer), & Tim Daniel (Design)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: July 17, 2019

Pages: 28

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Sera And The Royal Stars Vol. 1

Summary: Civil war rages in the Empire of Parsa, and famine has struck. As the seasons refuse to turn, Princess Sera receives a vision from the deity Mitra telling her to find the Royal Stars and restore them to the heavens. Despite her kingdom and her troops’ need of her command, Sera embarks on a quest to find the fallen stars—now trapped on earth—and save her people from dearth and death.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Sera And The Royal Stars #1 is a must-read epic fantasy-adventure comic! The detailed art, page-turning story, alongside its rich and expansive world, all come together to deliver a great introduction to what I know will be a fantastic series! Princess Sera finds herself embarking on a quest to save her kingdom and its people during the height of a civil war!

Sera And The Royal Stars is a comic series I’ve been waiting to read for months since I’d heard about it earlier this spring! I’d already been following the publisher for sometime,  I just hadn’t read any of their comics yet. I’m SO filled with joy that I finally did because I’m even more excited to read more of Vault’s comics on my TBR shelf!

This is the kind of story that swept me away without realizing it, allowing me to connect with its rich world, phenomenal characters, and immersive story and before I knew it― I’d reached the last page.

Sera And The Royal Stars is the type of story that roots you into its fascinating world (and doesn’t let go for one single second), as seen through a brave and valiant princess who’s willing to trek across her war-torn land to save her country and its people!

In the western territories of Parsa the story opens up with Princess Sera alongside her brother and sister (Jahar & Roya), who’ve come to collect the fallen soldiers as they continue on to fight a civil war across their dying land.

But Sera finds herself, in the midst of battle, summoned by the deity Mitra! She’s told that she’s been chosen to “break the bonds that bind the Royal Stars…” Once she does, she can save her people who have been suffering. With one more visit from Mitra, the deity replaces Sera’s heart with a special crystal and her journey quickly begins! The crystal seems to guide her along her journey and I’m interested in learning more about it.

The empire of Parsa is vast and within this first issue we get just a glimpse , but it leaves so many pockets of this world open to exploring―places, characters, the mythology, and the royal family!

What I loved about this first issue is how we’re thrown right into the action and already established story threads! We’re given all of these detailed bits of world-building to learn more about the story itself in a layered way! For example, Sera states that she’s already aware of the visions she’s had, but Mitra was the first to actually speak! Additionally we learn more about the queen, Tara who wasn’t able to complete the mission of restoring the dimming royal stars.

The layered and subtle details allow for the reader to build on this vast world with each turn of the page!

I’m also a big fan of royalty in fantasy stories and I appreciate how this first issue layers the complexity of the royal family, above all showcasing the importance of family (seeing Sera and her siblings fighting together)! I also love how the mythology and lore of Parsa are such driving forces in Sera’s journey to find a solution to this war–it allows the reader to get a glimpse into the on-going conflict and history of the world.

Sera is an incredibly dedicated and brave princess who’s love for her country and its people that pushes her to embark on a heroic quest!

Sibling dynamics are often overlooked in fantasy, but its clear Sera And The Royal Stars wants to explore it in more depth as future issues are released. Within issue #1, not only do we see Sera, Jahar, and Roya together on the battlefield, but also the conflict between family as the presence of war continues.

As Sera prepares to leave for her journey, her brother Jahar offers figs and feels confident in Sera’s abilities to find the answer. However, her sister Roya still carries the grief and anger of being abandoned by their mother all those years ago–just wanting Sera safe and staying home to fight!

I’m really interested in exploring more of the wonderful sibling dynamics that were introduced, in future issues.

Now onto the story–just wow! There’s so much that happens within this first issue and sets up even more as the series continues. After Sera’s vision on the battlefield, she heads back and we’re introduced to the king and quickly learn that the civil war is against Shaheen, Sera’s uncle!

We also learn that the queen was also called upon a similar mission to Sera’s but couldn’t complete it. As Sera is sleeping she’s contacted by Mitra and learns if she doesn’t break the bonds of the royal stars, not only will the seasons continue to remain unchanged, but her people will be led towards a horrible fate. Sera wastes no time leaving for her journey which starts with being directed east to find the Bull.

As she embarks on her journey, back home outside Parsa’s city walls, Shaheen is readying his forces to attack the kingdom! With Sera being the best tactician, the kingdom is left without her intellect.

After a few days of traveling she reaches a local village that directs her to a temple filled with ancient magic! She meets an old man who can’t remember who he is, until we realize he is the Bull–and the issue ends there!

Alongside Sera’s uncle, there’s a mysterious brother and sister duo who know quite a bit about the deities, the figure known as the Yazata, and are determined to rule, in time!

There’s a very present theme of war and its impacts on the people of Parsa from famine, to death, alongside mysterious forces at every turn. The plot though dark in its themes, presents resounding messages of hope and resilience!

“My earliest memories of family all revolve around war…”

Delving more into the mythology of Sera And The Royal Stars, the world seems to lay a large foundation on the deities and astrology! According to an interview with writer/creator Jon Tsuei over at Comics Pit, Tsuei was inspired to build this world around ancient Persia and wanted to focus on mythology from non-Western (specifically Asian) cultures:

” [The idea of the Royal Stars] seems to have originated through the Zoroastrian religion, which started in ancient Persia…It led me to sorcery and also led me to astrology…”

The setting is incredibly immersive, expansive and leaves so much to explore in future issues! The world of Parsa is vast from its rocky canyons of the Western Territories to its capital city, villages far from the outskirts of the kingdom, lush forests, and magical temples! There’s so many locations explored in issue 1 and not once did I feel lost in the world–I was excited to learn more and see what else lies in the expansive Kingdom of Parsa!

I’m also interested in exploring more of the politics of the different parts of the world, royals, and the war as the series continues!

The themes, world, characters, story, etc. all come together in such an incredible way to deliver an such a complex and layered story that’s easily my new favorite series!

Audrey Mok’s artwork is another highlight of this series! Its colorful and detailed, showcasing lush backgrounds, various styles of clothing, detailed characters, and the vastness of the world itself. As for the paneling, its done extremely well– the pacing of the story is great, each panel offers something important to the story and offers more insight into the world.

Also, every moment filled with action, shined through Mok’s detailed art and brought each scene to life!

I had such incredibly high hopes for this start to the Sera And The Royal Stars series and I was not disappointed, in fact I was left surprised and everything about it continued to exceed my expectations–I loved every moment and I can’t wait to read the future issues!

Sera And The Royal Stars #1 introduces an expansive fantasy world in the middle of war! Sera embarks on a heroic journey to save her people, while dark forces loom close by! If you love fantasy tales filled with epic journeys, ancient prophecies, royalty, heroic princesses, immersive world-building, and stunning artwork, don’t miss Sera And The Royal Stars, its a phenomenal start to a new comic series!

Animation And Its Potential To Break The Mold For YA Adaptations {Book Blog Discussion}

It’s either a reader’s dream come true or their worst nightmare to see beloved YA books adapted on screen. But we can’t ignore how incredibly exciting it is for that moment we’re able to rush to the theaters or tune into Netflix and see our favorite books come to life, regardless of its faithfulness to the source material.

With that in mind, think of any Young Adult adaptation in recent years whether you liked it or not. Have you noticed something they all have in common?

They’re all live action.

From contemporary to dystopia: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Hate U Give, and iconic franchises such as The Hunger Games and Twilight, to name a few. They’ve all found their way to both the big and small screens featuring real-life actors and sets.

Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Consider the most recent adaptation deal that’s got readers everywhere excited, Shadow And Bone.

It was announced back in January, Netflix acquired the rights to Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy world of the Grishaverse to be adapted as a live-action television show.

While it’s great to see the steady progress thus far for Shadow And Bone, consider the potential YA adaptations could have, especially in fantasy, to develop ground-breaking work in the field of animation.

Think about the influence Japanese animation has had on audiences with creators that have impacted the industry around the globe, such as Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki to name a couple. From beloved anime films and series that have found audiences worldwide to even more recent works such as Violet Evergarden (from Kyoto Animation)Your Name, Mob Psycho 100, and Demon Slayer.

Japanese animation reminds audiences how 2-D (and 3-D) animated projects carry emotion, heart, depth, and legacy to storytelling in a way that can’t be done in through any other medium.

With regards to adapting written works/established properties Kyoto Animation (a beloved Japanese animation studio that develops unique and captivating stories), for years has had its Kyoto Animation Awards. This award grants a prize to written works (full length & short novels) written in Japanese, which are then adapted into anime.

At its core, what makes animation such a beautiful art form is its unique ability to portray a range of emotion, color, and imagination you just can’t capture through live action.

Animation can present itself in a variety of ways from traditional 2-D to hand-drawn, and even stop motion. Its limitless and that’s what makes it such a powerful medium capable of pushing boundaries and expanding on new horizons.

In animation everything is intentional, from the heightening of expressions, pauses, motion, and subtleties. The versatility of this art form can create certain atmospheres that portray much more beyond just what we see on screen.

One animation powerhouse that understands this very well is Studio Ghibli. The films they create, showcase a balance between fantasy and reality.

Unsplash_Books_Roman-Kraft

One of the many tasks within animation, is creating a unique world that’s both immersive and real to the audience. This studio is just one example of how that can be done successfully, even when adapting written works, such as Howl’s Moving Castle.

Think about the 2018 animated film, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. It’s the unique “vintage comic-book aesthetic,” according to The Vulture’s article discussing how it changed the game of animation, that won audiences over and set this feature apart.

Into The Spider-Verse centers around teenager Miles Morales, whose from an African and Puerto-Rican background, as he takes up the role as Spiderman and embarks on the grand adventure of becoming a hero.

From sci-fi to fantasy, contemporary, historical fiction, and the paranormal, this medium has the unique ability to bend rules or break them entirely in ways live-action just can’t―and that’s the magic of animation.

Consider the potential for more inclusive and diverse storytelling featuring YA, if they were to be animated features.

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore

One author that comes to mind is Anna-Marie McLemore. She’s a YA author known for her lush magical realism novels that feature Latina protagonists and Queer representation.

For example, consider if one were to adapt McLemore’s 2016 novel When The Moon Was OursThroughout it, she layers wondrous prose alongside themes of family, friendship, and identity.

With animation, it would be possible to bring to life the meaning behind Sam’s painted moons, the flowers that grow from Miel’s wrists, and the vivid imagery that weaves its way throughout McLemore’s masterful writing!

Breaking the mold of live-action adaptations can unlock more doors for opportunities to feature YA that identify as #OwnVoices and are written by authors of color. The creativity that comes with animation can bring their works to life beyond the page like never before.

Thank you so much for checking out this post! I’ve been wanting to create more unique discussion posts to share on the blog and this is one that’s been on my mind for a while, in regards to YA adaptations! There’s many more sides to this discussion I’m looking to share in the future, but please let me know your thoughts on the one I’ve shared today 🍃📚😍

Do you have an ideas on what YA Books you would want to see as an animated film or show? Lets discuss in the comments 😄💖📚🎨

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen ARC Review

The Merciful Crow by Margaret OwenThe Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (The Merciful Crow #1)

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Fierce Reads)

Release Date: July 30, 2019

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: The Merciful Crow

Summary: A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

*Received ARC from Yallwest*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: The Merciful Crow is a YA Fantasy debut that takes readers on an adventure following future chieftain Fie, a runaway prince, and his bodyguard as they travel across Sabor to save Fie’s fellow Crows! The setting’s atmosphere and cast of characters will keep readers immersed in this action-filled debut that presents a unique magic system and intriguing politics that build as the story develops!

The Merciful Crow was one of those debuts I knew I just had to read! I was really looking forward to the story not only because it had a really unique concept, but also I’d seen so many positive reviews and that had me even more excited to check it out!

Though Owen’s debut wasn’t a 5-star read for me, it still had a lot of elements that I enjoyed and that I’ll be exploring more in-depth!

From the opening pages featuring a Caste Legend, I knew I was going to be immersed in a distinct fantasy world unlike any I’d really read before!

The world of Sabor is divided into 5 different castes which all have separate classes within them, all named after different birds (Peacock, Swan, Dove, Hawk, and Vulture, to name a few), with Phoenix being the highest caste.

Among these castes, people are all born with a Birthright that gives them a specialized skill or affinity (for example, the Vulture caste has an affinity for hunting). Crows, however have no affinities or skills, so they must take teeth of the dead from other castes to perform magic. Crows are also the only ones with the unique ability to defend themselves against the Sinner’s Plague, a deadly disease that can wipe out entire cities within days. However, even with this life-saving ability, they are still treated poorly by the other castes.

We follow Fie, future chieftain of the Crows, who travels across the land with her band who deliver mercy killings to those struck with illness. When the Crows find themselves at the royal palace that’s been struck by the plague, it’s just another average day. However what we quickly learn is that 2 boys have recently been struck with the illness, and one of them is the crown prince.

It turns out however, crown prince Jasimir and his Hawk bodyguard Tavin, were actually using that as a cover to escape the royal palace, because the queen Rhusana is trying to get rid of him.

As the two join Fie’s Crows, they agree to a pact that will offer the Crow’s lifelong protection from the assassins and castes loyal to the crown, such as the Oleanders and Vultures, who don’t give much thought to how they’re treated.

The Crows do a very important job within this world, but are still seen as outsiders in a society that at the end of the day relies on them, as the illness continues to spread.

The setting and atmosphere of Sabor, with its dense forests, stone infrastructure, traveling bands of friends and family, together painted for me, a picture of an early century Europe. This image I had in my mind definitely wasn’t by accident because, according to a recent article from Tor where Owen discusses the inspiration for The Merciful Crow, she states that she was inspired by the history of executioners of Medieval Europe!

“One of the most overt parallels is the ostracization of historical executioners and that faced by our heroine, Fie. For background, Fie belongs to a caste known as the Crows, who are not quite executioners, but may as well be: they are immune to a fast and terminal illness called the Sinner’s Plague, one that is believed only to initially infect people as divine punishment. The Crows are expected to remove the infected, mercy-killing them if need be, and give them funeral rites. Like executioners of old, they may not hand out the sentence, but it’s their duty to carry it out…”

Owen explored the dynamics between Crows and their societal standing extremely well, where you sense that tension (and division) between castes throughout the entirety of the book. You can see how the politics of each caste and especially treatment of the Crows is built with so many layers/threads that definitely leave for more exploration in the sequel!

When Fie’s tight-knit group of Crows are taken, she embarks on a journey with the help of  Tavin and Jasimir to get them back. However with a pact ensuring future protection for the Crows, she tries not to lose hope even as they avoid the Oleanders, trackers, and monstrous ghasts that chase them at every turn!

While the fantasy world of Sabor was distinct and that’s something I really loved about it,  I wish there was further development of this vast setting as the story progressed. We focus on the Crows, Vultures, and Hawks (mainly) and while we definitely get glimpses into each caste, I felt there just wasn’t enough information to really connect me to the world fully–pockets of this world seemed to be missing and because of that I didn’t feel such a strong connection to the world in its entirety.

As for plot, while I do enjoy journey stories (which this one definitely is), I did find that the team jumped around from one spot to another a bit too quickly. Because new locations were introduced every few pages with very brief descriptions and then moved onto a new place, I felt lost as to where the Crows were headed exactly, early on.

I will say though, what I enjoyed about the journey that Fie, Jas, & Tavin embark on together was how with each new location, it did layer more of the politics and perspective of different castes within the world–I just wish it was more developed.

One of my favorite parts about The Merciful Crow was the dynamic between the main trio! Jas and Tavin had grown up together and as Fie learns more about them, we see how strong their bond really is. While it does seem that Fie has more page-time with Tavin, I liked that Owen weaved in a good amount of development with both of the guys and we learn a lot about their fears and hopes for their own futures and of the world!

Owen’s writing really highlights how wonderfully developed she makes her characters and I really appreciated that! As I continue to read more YA Fantasy, I realize that I also try to find that connection to the cast–the dynamic of Fie, Tavin, and Jas brings a lot of great energy to the story and was a definite highlight of The Merciful Crow!

Fie is a character who’s fierce and loyal to her caste. While it can seem like there isn’t much more explored beyond that, its the little moments in the journey she embarks on, where you see bits of her character shine through.

Jas is a royal prince who jumps at the chance to bring change to his world, especially the Crows! His deal with the Crows, alongside joining them to reach his forces deep in Sabor, takes him on his own journey outside his lavish palace as he sees more of the outside world he’s planning to one day lead!

Then there’s Tavin, Jas’s protector along this journey! As he connects more with Fie, we learn while he’s well aware that he’s in Jas’s shadow, he also fears the uncertainty of where that duty will end and he can begin! I really loved his character arc and felt it explored so much about identity and forging your own path when you feel one has already been laid out!

The writing while immersive and descriptive, just didn’t flow well with the constant starts and pauses in the journey. Through 3rd person, there’s good glimpses into each character and I really appreciated that! However, when it came to the world itself, I still felt a bit distant from it and found the exploration of the setting (either new or previously explored), seemed to be a bit surface level and felt it could been more developed.

While the writing successfully creates a unique atmosphere for the setting, if I were to look at just the writing itself, I found it was a bit generic–descriptive when it needed to be, but in the end it was quite hard to find that special element that also made it stand out alongside the story.

Aside from those critiques though, I’m personally really looking forward to seeing more of how the characters develop in the sequel! They are what kept me reading and I can’t wait to see where their journeys take them next!

The Merciful Crow is an atmospheric fantasy debut that introduces a unique and immersive world! Fie embarks on a journey to save her people and along the way, gather the wisdom to determine if she’s ready to be the chieftain her people need! If your a fan of character-driven journey stories, Owen’s debut is one to check out!

Today I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger’s review 😍💕📚

The Merciful Crow ARC Review from Sab over at Vengeance & Starlight

We follow each other on twitter & for a while I’d been seeing all her lovely tweets talking about this book! She goes into discussion of a couple topics I wasn’t able to cover much in my review such as the oppression of the Crows and the interesting change in writing voice as the story progresses! 💞

Overall she gave this book 5 stars and as I read her review I could feel the love she has for this delightful book from the characters to the world and how everything ties together! If you need more convincing to check out Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow, check out her wonderful review!