Daughter Of The Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller Review

Daughter Of The Siren QueenDaughter Of The Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller (DOTPK #2)

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: February 27, 2018

Pages: 352

Summary: Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Daughter Of The Siren Queen is a character-driven, action-packed  tale that concludes Alosa’s adventures in the Pirate King duology! When Alosa learns more about her past, she’s on a race to escape the pirate king at every turn with her crew at her side! Action, adventure, romance all blend together in Levenseller’s finale to her swashbuckling pirate adventure!

Alosa learns a lot about her past in this book & I loved how character-driven + focused this novel was on her. We definitely know her reputation as the ruthless daughter of the pirate king, but when secrets are revealed, it really builds onto the Alosa we thought we knew at the end of Daughter Of The Pirate King!

With Alosa having taken over the Nightfarer and gathered up the remaining loyal crew, she takes charge to find answers for herself! She quickly learns of the secrets her father has been hiding and feeling betrayed, goes after the treasure on her own!

Now Alosa + her crew are headed to the Isla de Canta to retrieve Kalligan’s treasure and try to get him off their tails.

The banter is as great as always! Levenseller really made the dynamic between Alosa, her crew, + Riden so entertaining!

We get introduced to Alosa’s all-female crew in Daughter Of The Pirate King, but in this book they really get to shine. I loved Rosly’s fierce and courageous spirit, Sorinda’s stealth + relatable quiet personality, and so much more from Mandsy, Kearen, Enwen, Wallov, Niridia, Deros, Lotya & Deshel!

Riden himself gets a lot more character development too! Now as a part of Alosa’s crew, she struggles to understand his loyalty to his brother Draxen after how he treated them. Over the course of the novel, this really allows us to see the growth not in Riden’s character, but also in his relationship with Alosa as she learns more about her siren abilities.

I loved how much this novel really allowed Alosa’s character to shine! We obviously get a sense of who she is from book 1, but when secrets are revealed, we see how determined she is to prove herself & attempt to find the answers she’s looking for!

With her siren abilities coming into question, I loved how her powers were explored so much more and that it really built into the mythology of the sirens set up in Daughter Of The Pirate King!

There is also a bit romance! Similarly to DOTPK, I love how Levenseller weaved it into the plot in such a great way. The banter between Alosa + Riden continued to be so well done!

While I’m still leaning towards 4 stars or 4 14, I will admit that sadly I did enjoy Daughter Of The Pirate King just a bit more~ While I loved the beginning + ending from its plot, pacing to development, Daughter Of The Siren Queen’s middle is where I felt it dragged a bit for me personally. I wanted a bit more plot from a few in-between chapters as Alosa & her crew tried to escape Kalligan.

Aside from that, I really loved how Levenseller wrapped-up the duology. Knowing this would be the conclusion,  I was pretty sad that there wouldn’t be anymore pirate adventures from Alosa to look forward to. But once I actually reached the end, I was surprised at how I felt!

While I’m not surprised Levenseller left this book on such satisfying + happy note, that the last page didn’t feel like the end to Alosa, Riden, and the crew & I loved that!

With how much I loved this duology, I cannot wait to read Tricia Levenseller’s next book: Warrior Of The Wild & see what other grand adventures she sets up next!

Daughter Of The Siren Queen is a sea-faring adventure + conclusion to The Pirate King duology! From expansion to the siren lore and world, comedic banter, and adventures on the high seas, Levenseller brilliantly concludes Alosa’s adventures!


Flight Season by Marie Marquardt Review

Flight Season by Marie MarquardtFlight Season by Marie Marquardt

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Pages: 352

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

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

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

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Flight Season is a gem of a novel! Heartfelt, impactful, and beautifully written through 3 brilliantly woven POV’s , Marquardt’s novel discusses love, grief, loss, family, forgiveness, and acceptance! 

From the very first page I fell in love with Flight Season and it easily became not only another one of my all-time favorite YA Contemporaries, but just connected with me in such a way I am truly grateful for!

You know when you read a book & feel you read it at the most perfect moment? That’s definitely what reading Flight Season felt like~

Told through 3 phenomenally developed POV’s, we follow Vivi Flannigan, TJ Carvalho & Ángel Solis.

Vivi has just barley passed her classes at Yale for pre-med, now in order to stay in the program she’s required to complete a summer internship at a hospital in the heart ICU. There she meets nurse aid TJ & patient Ángel.

TJ is planning to complete his training at the hospital & classes in community college to become a nurse.

Ángel Solis is an 18-year old patient, who finds himself in the hospital with a heart infection due to an incident from his job.

The 3 POV’s were all written so wonderfully and each had their own unique and distinct voice. I truly loved reading how these POV’s all weaved together.

One aspect I loved about Flight Season so much was the growth/development seen within each character. Though Vivi’s journey is essentially a huge aspect of this novel, both TJ + Ángel’s perspectives are equally as important and their stories are progressed so wonderfully!

These characters are very much different from their first introductions to the very last page and Marquardt brilliantly gives insight and depth to our 3 main characters that they just truly come to life!

Reading the friendship and deep connection the characters create with each other over the course of the story was miraculously developed and seeing how supportive they became of each other was written so beautifully!

Vivi herself was so relatable to me because she went through moments (especially thinking about university/majors) about whether what she’s studying is really what she wants to pursue. Also considering she heavily handles the emotions of grief and loss was just something for me personally I struggled with not too long ago and reading her long, but fulfilling journey to accept what happened w/ her father was just so beautiful to read & I felt for her with each and every moment.

Additionally what truly made this novel so much more special for me was the Latinx representation! We have TJ who is Brazilian-American & Ángel who is Indigenous Guatemalan & speaks Mam (an indigenous Mayan language).

This is actually the very first time I can say that I am truly writing a 100% #OwnVoices review (with my culture being represented) and that honestly meant so much to me reading it in Flight Season!

With my ethnic background being Guatemalan, it just felt so surreal to read that explicitly stated in the text, reading through Ángel’s falshbacks about Guatemala (& later Vivi’s POV), from the description of the setting to the indigenous languages, just had me crying tears of joy!!😭

I truly loved each of the 3 main characters with all my heart. Their personalities just shine through with each page and you really see their slow, but definite development when you reach the end of Flight Season.

Vivi is really into birds and bird-watching. Throughout the novel we see entries in her journal from the various birds she sees and what exactly they represent for her.

Flight Season discusses grief throughout a majority of the novel through Vivi, and we see how these birds later represent a sense of acceptance for her with the loss of her father + how that not only impacts her from before the start of the novel, but also her mother + the struggles (mainly economic) they face as the novel progresses.

TJ + Vivi both struggle with finding where their place in the world, but support each other when issues come up and through their *almost hate-to-love relationship, really shows their growth as characters and how they learn to really lift each other up + better understand who they want to be!

Though I loved all 3 main characters equally, Ángel was easily my favorite. His perspective in a way broke the 4th wall as he was essentially talking with us (the reader) as he narrates his time in his hospital room, how he got there & with the friendship he builds with Vivi + TJ.

The dynamic he has with each of them was so beautifully done and overall just his witty +  kind personality made his character very refreshing to read about! He was just a really nice and supportive person throughout the novel and regardless of what obstacles he faced, just remained optimistic + hopeful!~

The themes throughout Flight Season were very well developed and explored, from loss (through the explanation of the death of Vivi’s father + Ángel’s family), but also acceptance and the importance of friendship & how it can allow for healing through difficult times.

Flight Season is one of those truly special books that takes you on an quite a journey and doesn’t let go for a single page! From the beautiful characters, writing, themes, and uniquely plotted story, Marquardt’s novel is a must read YA Contemporary!

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman Review

Starfish by Akemi Dawn BowmanStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Pages: 340

Summary: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

*This novel discusses sexual assault + there’s also mention of suicide*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Starfish is a beautifully written, but impactful and powerful YA Contemporary that follows Kiko, who dreams of getting into her dream art school! Bowman discusses and handles numerous heavy topics throughout this novel, but above all through Kiko we understand there is always hope!

Starfish was one of those novels I’d always planned on reading in 2017, but sadly never got to. I’d heard such amazing things from fellow book bloggers & made it a goal to read it in 2018! While I knew it would be a pretty impactful read, I did not expect it to be so heart-wrenching. This book was thought-provoking, beautiful and truly an unforgettable YA Contemporary.

Kiko is finishing up high school and ready to graduate. As a passionate artist/painter, she dreams of getting into Prism, one of the top art schools in the country.

Her home life and family isn’t the easiest. She hardly feels she has close relationships with her two brothers, Taro and Shoji and her mother is constantly emotionally abusive towards her.

She feels her mother will never understand her no matter how hard she tries. My heart broke for Kiko, reading just how neglected she felt, how ignorant her mother was and how she never felt like she’d have a family who understood her truly.

Not only does she constantly belittle and criticize her, but Kiko also has to deal with her mother’s ignorance and self-absorbed personality throughout the entirety of the novel.

As her final days of high school are close by, she and her friend Emery get invited to a party. There she reconnects with her childhood best-friend + crush who had moved to California years ago, Jamie.

When she learns her uncle (who she was assaulted by as a child) will be staying at her house, Kiko struggles to convince her mother to keep him out. With that, as Jamie & Kiko slowly but surely rekindle their friendship + he’s by Kiko’s side when he understands she needs to get away from home for a bit.

In order to escape the anxiety, frustration and all the other complex emotions of being with her mother, Kiko heads to California with Jamie to forge a new path for herself and find a place where she can belong.

I loved the beautiful relationship between Kiko and Jamie. Jamie was so understanding about Kiko’s anxiety and he always did his best to support her in her dream of finding a new art school!

I also loved how Bowman showed this new step of their friendship now that they are older and more grown-up. While we know from Kiko how close they were, seeing her form a different but even stronger bond with him as the story develops was so beautifully done!

Also because I read Starfish in about a week than the usual 2~3 days it usually takes me to read books, I felt it allowed me to really connect with Kiko and her story!

The writing was just so lyrical and flows beautifully with the heaviness of the story. It really allowed you to fully understand Kiko and her story. Additionally, it just allows you to see the depth of the characters in such an interesting way.

There’s also descriptions of Kiko’s paintings at the end of each chapter & they added so much to understanding the depth of her emotions and heart & they were written so vividly that you could really envision her artwork!

Plot-wise, it is compelling and heart-wrenching. Seeing Kiko go on her journey to not only find herself, but also to better understand what family means to her and how she can let go of the people or places that hold her back was truly inspiring. The plot not only weaves together in such a brilliant way, but honestly there were moments too, that just left me surprised!

As for representation, this novel follows our main character Kiko who is biracial being 1/2 Japanese & 1/2 white (as are her brothers Taro & Shoji) additionally Kiko also has social anxiety (Both Social Anxiety + Japanese-American Rep are #OwnVoices!)

Starfish is novel that really fills your heart through each turn of the page as you connect more with Kiko and her story.

Starfish is a character-driven, phenomenally written YA Contemporary that stays with you long after the final page! From the important and heavy topics discussed to the empowering journey of the main character Kiko, Starfish is a novel that inspires you to find your voice!

Literary Listens: Audio Drama Podcasts That Need Book Adaptations

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerIf you’re new to my blog, Literary Listens is a feature I created to share my love of podcasts while also incorporating my love for books! When I’m not reading, I also love listening to podcasts, especially audio dramas!

Today’s post is all about audio drama book adaptations! If you didn’t know, The Bright Sessions was recently picked up by Tor Teen to have a book series written by the creator Lauren Shippen! This audio drama series told through recordings, follows Dr. Bright as she provides therapy to people with supernatural abilities.

What I love about this is that not only will it give more depth to the world and story for fans/listeners, but also introduce the podcast to new listeners too!! 😍✨🎙

With that said, this recent announcement inspired me to share some more of my favorite audio drama podcasts that I would also love to see have book adaptations!

Hopefully today’s post also inspires you to check out these podcasts if you’ve never heard them before~(´▽`ʃƪ)♥♥

audio-dime-museum1.Audio Dime Museum
Summary: From the Just A Story team, comes a weekly, serialized experimental storytelling podcast which explores historical legends through the artifacts on display in the Audio Dime Museum. Part guided tour, part radio drama; each episode presents the curious story of one object from the collection. Meet your guide on this journey, The Curator, and learn her secrets as you delve into the world of possibility, magic and the unknown. Merging the suspenseful style of mystery with the conventions of ghost stories and the peculiarity that only historical fact can provide, this podcast is not for the faint of heart.

Why: This audio drama holds such a special place in my heart! It was the very first podcast I’d ever listened to and I believe it would make a fantastic book!

Each episode follows the Curator as she gives you the history behind one of the artifacts hidden away in her collection at the Dime Museum (All based on real-life artifacts!!).

Each story told through the curator is just beautifully written and I feel it would translate perfectly onto the page!

With each episode not only do you learn about different artifacts, but also about the Curator and her shop.

Girl In Space Podcast2.Girl In Space
Summary: Nothing fancy here — just the simple audio diary of a girl in space. Also, there’s this weird and potentially ominous light in the distance that seems to be growing steadily closer. Listen biweekly for science, guns, trust, anti-matter, truth, beauty, inner turmoil, and delicious cheeses. It’s all here. In space.

Why: Girl In Space is honestly one of the best sci-fi podcasts I’ve ever listened to! The story is not only brilliantly plotted with incredible world-building, government secrecy, mystery, twists and turns, but the writing is also utterly fantastic!

With such a thought-provoking main character, you follow X as she’s spent her whole life cataloging on her parents ship in space, but soon learns she may not be alone as someone…or something looms close to her ship, the Cavatica!

The way the main character describes her world makes it easy to imagine and puts you into the world of Girl In Space so easily.

So overall, the fantastic story, characters, etc., would make Girl In Space a flawless sci-fi novel!

The Elysium Project3.The Elysium Project
Summary:The Elysium Project follows those who are pulled into the world of a powerful formula that allows its subjects to manipulate the world around them based on thought and desire.This is an independently produced audio drama series created and produced by Natalie Van Sistine.

Why:The Elysium Project is easily one of the most cinematic audio drama podcasts I’ve ever heard! It plays very much like a weekly tv show. I feel the science-fiction elements,unique world-building, characters and plot are just so brilliantly executed, that it would make a fantastic book!

Its very much a plot and character-driven story that I feel will translate perfectly onto the page.

There’s science, genetics, drama, intrigue, action/adventure, just so many amazing elements that all weave together to tell a fascinating story.

The Penumbra Podcast4.The Penumbra Podcast
Summary:Depending on who you ask, the Penumbra is either the grandest railway this side of Nowhere or a twice-monthly podcast series. Each episode takes the form of a 30-50 minute radio play. The Penumbra is all about stories you recognize told in ways you won’t expect. Your femme fatale might be an homme fatale; you might find that not every haunting needs a ghost. Your criminal underworld might advertise on billboards ten miles tall, and when push comes to shove your home might have a bit more heart than you’re comfortable with. It’s never just a heist, a Western, an adventure. It’s the parts we think are still fresh about those genres — along with what we find along the tracks. And what will we find, you ask? Well… see for yourself. The Penumbra is created and produced by Sophie Kaner and Kevin Vibert.

Why:This is a podcast I feel would do so incredibly well as a novel in the SFF genre (& its so diverse!). With a number of alternating/separate story lines the characters and worlds really come to life + each is written with such depth! Some of the stories on The Penumbra Podcast include:

~Juno Steel: Juno Steel is a private detective on Mars and gets himself into quite a bit of trouble as he and his secretary Rita work together to solve mysteries + cases on a futuristic/colonized Mars, or more specifically in Hyperion City.

Each episode introduces such interesting characters and always gives you something new to learn about the world! The writing specifically for this story line is told through 1st person and its done so brilliantly.

~The Coyote Of The Painted Plains: Set in the Wild West, Mary Anne is moving to Crossroads with her fiancee and dreams to continue teaching there, though its rumored to be filled bandits. However, things quickly change when she gets involved with female bandit Chance Sequoyah, though she isn’t all she seems as Mary Anne soon learns.

Additionally, this story line features an f/f relationship & the banter between Chance + Mary Anne is so well written.

*This audio drama also features diverse representation through its characters with: disability rep., bisexual rep., f/f relationship, and portrayal of anxiety + depression + Main characters throughout the series also identify as nonbinary & genderqueer.

The intricacies of each story that The Penumbra Podcast creates with each episode have me wishing it could be a book series already with the brilliant world-building + writing, and incredible cast of characters!!

Victoriocity Podcast5.Victoriocity
Summary:A detective comedy drama || Even Greater London, 1887. In this vast metropolis, Inspector Archibald Fleet and journalist Clara Entwhistle investigate a murder, only to find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy of impossible proportions.

Why: Though I’ve only just finished episode 1 of Victoriocity, I can tell it will be another to add to my new all-time favorite audio dramas list!

The story itself is just so unique and follows 2 dynamic main characters (a detective & journalist) that would translate so well onto page.

Even Greater London is a unique steampunk setting written in such a way where you really get a full scope of the world through just the first episode. There’s comedy (which is done amazingly!), mystery, and just a very intricately plotted story and world that, if adapted, could do so well as a book!

So there you have it! Those are just a few of the audio dramas I’d love too see adapted into books!!

What are your thoughts? Would you like to read these if they were adapted into books?

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 😄✨🎙📚

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton Review

The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonThe Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles #1)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion (Freeform Books)

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 448

Summary:Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. 

*Received a finished copy through a giveaway*

*Trigger Warnings: attempted sexual assault*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Belles is a dazzling, thought-provoking & unique tale that explores the concept of beauty! As a Belle in Orléans, Camellia Beauregard wants nothing more than to secure her spot as the Favorite, but things aren’t all that they seem as this immersive YA Fantasy explores a number of themes and topics from family to beauty, even political intrigue!

The concept of the Belles was so fascinating! They are young women born with the ability to control beauty, which means they use their power to alter not only people’s appearances, but can even heighten or lessen emotions/temperaments (which was fascinating!). There was mythology explored, but also mystery surrounding the Belles and it was presented in such an intriguing way.

From the very beginning, the descriptive and dazzling writing you are immediately transported to the world of Orléans. The detailed way the setting, food, atmosphere, and especially clothing were crafted was just described in such a way that sparkled!

What I loved so much about The Belles was Clayton’s writing-style. Through Camellia’s first-person POV, you not only get such a character-driven perspective, but also one that balances a number of differing themes and topics.

The topic of beauty is really a foundation for this novel. Not only does it play a huge part in the world as the Belles are given the ability to manipulate it, but it also explores it in depth from a number of angles. For instance, what one is willing to do to achieve beauty, the high standards one sets for it on themselves, and so much more!

Camellia, though she has her other Belle sisters by her side, wants nothing more than to be the Favorite (the one Belle chosen by the queen) and is driven to achieve her goal. Her determination to not only reach them, but also prove to herself all that she’s worked for can pay off, was so inspiring. I loved how driven she was to pursue her goals.

Though things don’t go the way she plans at first, she soon finds herself as the new Favorite and knows her dreams have finally come true.

However, the power of the Belles is complex and soon Cameilla sees a side to her world (mainly through the youngest princess Sophia) that the quest for beauty can sometimes come at a cost.

My favorite themes and topics explored was definitely the sisterhood between the Belles and the political intrigue. Clayton shows us through flashbacks of Caemilla’s past & especially through the Belles dynamics in the beginning, just how close they are. Regardless of competition, they all want the best for each other and while it is explored less throughout the middle of the novel, its a clear and present aspect of not only the history of the Belles in Orléans, but also through Cameilla’s POV.

The main characters were all really wonderfully developed and while I felt some characters could have had a bit more page time (like more of the sisters) Clayton really gave such depth to the main cast and while you can see the complexities to their character, their also given the perfect elements of mystery.

Now as to why I took off a star: While I loved the writing and felt the world was presented through such unique descriptions, I couldn’t help but feel the pacing was really slow for me personally, especially throughout the middle of the story. And while it does pick up nearing the end, it took me much longer to read this novel than I had planned.

Regardless, the ending really leaves you wanting more when more secrets are discovered and I cannot wait to read where the story is headed in the sequel!

The Belles is a magical and unique tale that immerses you from the very beginning! The various themes and discussions of beauty become such prevalent aspects of this novel and are explored with such depth. The world, characters, and plot all weave together wonderfully through the descriptive and dazzling writing!

Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire ARC Review

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

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: January 9, 2018

Pages: 160

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

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

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

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

Warning: May contain nuts.

*Received an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco Review

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri ManiscalcoHunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (SJTR #2)

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Pages: 434

Summary: Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Hunting Prince Dracula takes you on another murder mystery, this time set in Romania as detective duo Audrey and Thomas head to a school of forensics! Maniscalco’s writing builds an atmospheric setting and keeps you in suspense as you follow Audrey on her adventure to solve another case!

While I didn’t rate this higher than book 1, rating aside, this was still a great book! Hunting Prince Dracula, immerses you from the start as Audrey Rose Wadworth and Thomas Cresswell are in Romania on a train, headed to compete for the few remaining spots at the Academy of Forensics and Medicine.

However when a murder on the train continues to lead suspicion about the infamous Vlad Dracula’s return, Audrey and Thomas feel this may be one of their darkest mysteries to date!

What I loved about Hunting Prince Dracula so much was the rich and expansive history, Maniscalco weaved into the story from the Romanian folklore to the legends and tales surrounding Vlad Dracula! Before deciding to read this book, I had actually watched an interesting documentary about Dracula recently and was able to recall a lot of the info from it in this book which was really cool to revisit in this book + even learn some new tidbits of fascinating history + folklore!

Audrey Rose is dealing with the aftermath of the events in Stalking Jack The Ripper and essentially over the course of the story finds her strength to continue doing what she loves while accepting what happened and is determined to claim one of the limited spots in the academy! Her determination never wavers even as guys at the academy question and doubt her, she never once backs down!

We learn much more about Thomas which was great + it was great to get even more into Audrey’s head too as we follow grief, mystery, and so much more that she tackles throughout Hunting Prince Dracula!

Maniscalco’s 1st person POV allows us to brilliantly explore this dark addition to the Stalking Jack The Ripper series, from the clues that leave us unsure of who to trust to following Audrey’s inspiring journey to pursue what she loves no matter what gets in her way! Mansicalco also continues to build such a detailed and immersive atmosphere into this novel which really makes for a setting and tale that really come to life!

And what made this novel such a perfect December read was the vibrant winter setting!

What I really love about this series so much is how Maniscalco really tackles this genre of mystery in such unique ways to deliver a new, interesting, and complex strings of murder and mystery that weave together + overall just brings such heart to her stories!

She builds plot twists, mystery, and suspense so well and I will continue to be on the look out for the next book!

As for diversity, we have Audrey Rose who is biracial (white + Indian) and there was an f/f romance introduced, that weaves throughout the story!

Now as for why I didn’t rate it as high as I’d I hoped…For me I did find the pacing to be much slower than in Book 1 and found the beginning to be rather slow to get through. And there were certain aspects about Thomas’s character (in relation to how he handles Audrey admitting her worries/fears to him) that had me feeling like he wasn’t the same as he was in SJTR. While there were so many great elements to this book, overall it just felt like a 4-star read to me.

Aside from that, I will continue to love this series with all my heart with Audrey and her unwavering determination to the new and interesting mysteries, she and Thomas unravel!! (Plus it was also recently announced to be a 4-book series! ❤ )

Hunting Prince Dracula is a brilliant addition to the Stalking Jack The Ripper series! Following a much darker mystery, Maniscalco continues to deliver on the detailed setting to her brilliantly complex characters and plot that all weave together in such a way that will leave you wanting to read even more adventures from the brilliant and witty duo of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell!