Blanca And Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ARC Review

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemoreBlanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Pages: 375

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.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Blanca & Roja is magnificent tale that weaves in beautiful prose, powerful themes of family, sisterhood, and identity! As the del Cisne sisters attempt to break free from the bonds of a generations-long spell and when 2 boys become tangled in it, they know this will not be an easy game to win!

No matter what Anna-Marie writes, I will read it! I had been looking forward to this book for so long & now that I’ve finished it I’m not entirely sure I can form coherent thoughts about how amazing Blanca & Roja was!

Not only is this is lush magical realism story, but its also a retelling of Snow White & Rose Red weaved together with Swan Lake!

Blanca & Roja del Cisne are sisters, but not only that, they are also rivals in a generations-long spell that has left one sister of each family, turned into a swan!

McLemore’s tale is filled with such descriptive and elegantly delivered prose that just paints such vivid and vibrant settings, characters, and emotion with each page!

Both sisters are grown up to be seen as total opposites where Roja is seen as less graceful and the one with “blood-soaked” hair, while Blanca is the older gentler one who is seen as more graceful.

Because of that, its believed she will be the one spared by the swans. Regardless, this forces Roja & Blanca to always have this underlying truth in the back of their minds, that they will one day be lost to each other, just as the other sisters before them!

What I loved about Blanca & Roja so much, was that even though we see this hidden but present conflict between them, their is a beautiful and powerful sister bond that exists within them both, but as they’ve gotten older its become a lot easier to remain hidden.

Not only have these conflicting views about them been perpetuated by their parents and people around town, but also through the inevitable spell itself! They really don’t want to lose each other and you feel + see that so much through their separate POVs!

–That reminds me: I adored the multiple POVs so much! We explore this tale from 4 distinct 1st person POVs which include Blanca, Roja, Page & Yearling (Barclay)!

They each undergo their own personal journey of identity, understanding what they are willing to risk everything for, and accepting the love they never thought they’d find.

Blanca is keeping a secret which brings a lot of uncertainty into the game with the Cisnes (involving a blue-eyed boy who could save one of them!), Roja undergoes a journey of seeking out truths + taking charge of her own destiny, while Page + Barclay undergo journeys of finding out who they are meant to be, while attempting to leave their pasts behind them!

With the game of the swans always ending with one sister being transformed into a swan and the other left behind, the sisters think its best to stay close to home with their parents, cousins & aunts.

The family curse causes Blanca & Roja to go behind each others backs in the hopes they can still find a way to stay together! Their fierce and determined loyalty to each other just left me feeling so heartbroken at their rivalry, but with sisters myself, it was just so powerful + moving and something I could relate to so much!

The beautiful + complex exploration of their dynamic was so beautiful & heart-breaking all at once!

Though their game becomes a bit more tangled when local boys Page Ashby and Barclay Holt find themselves drawn into the forest near the del Cisne’s house, leaving Page the ability to weave in & out of his body and become part of the forest, while Barclay (or Yearling) finds himself transformed into a bear!

Both boys later escape the forest after spending quite some time there and become a part of Blanca & Roja’s lives!

Page escaped from the family of apple farmers who never really understood him, while Barclay left behind his wealthy family because of a secret he uncovered, involving his cousin Liam!

As with Anna-Marie’s previous novels, she explores identity and gender so beautifully as we see that Page is genderqueer & trans, who uses varied pronouns (but through Blanca’s POV we see that Page goes by she/her)! 

Also as we see the beautiful relationship develop between Blanca & Page, Blanca identifies as Queer!

When Page & Yearling reemerge from the forest, we see that they are not who they were when they first entered! Yearling or Barclay, now has to adjust with a disability, not being able to see as clearly as he did before in one eye! Page is finding that perfect place of seeing where he can truly belong while also caring for those he loves!

Page & Yearling were truly precious & I loved both of them with all my heart! ❤ Reading their journey to find themselves and seeing their beautiful dynamic to always support one another was just–so beautiful!

And while their were such wonderful friendships/sibling dynamics explored, I also adored the romance! McLemore’s romances are always so beautifully explored and complex that just have so many layers to them! I loved the sweet relationship between Blanca & Page (& their date in the apple orchard!!) + I adored Roja & Yearling’s powerful dynamic/friendship as they begin to see they aren’t who each of them expected to be & that builds into such a beautiful relationship! (& their hang-out to get ice cream <3)

As with McLemore’s other novels, she explores so many themes alongside many different facets to her stories that have so many layers to them: First, the theme of sisterhood, which is really at the core of this story (which I related to so incredibly much)! Then there’s family & love as we see Blanca & Roja’s family & found family remain a very important part of the story! There’s also periods/menstruation & its pain explored through Roja’s POV & I don’t usually see it explored in such a way as it was with Blanca y Roja– & it was just relatable, but also just so amazing to read about in YA!

Being able to relate to this novel too, identifying as Latinx was just so incredible and reminds me why I love Anna-Marie’s books so much! I could truly see myself in Blanca & Roja and relating so much to them in a way that left me connecting to them 100% (I also loved the Quetzal references ❤ ❤ + the cascarones (confetti-filled Easter eggs!) I’d actually known about them for years, but the name always escaped me, now I’ll definitely remember after reading about them in Blanca & Roja ^_^

The plot itself unravels in some unexpected ways, which I really loved! Some of my favorite moments included the del Cisne’s sisters dates/hang-outs w/ Page & Barclay, the mystery of how they would outmaneuver the swans game, & basically ever other plot point!! The way it developed always left me in surprise, joy, fear, and so many other emotions as I was constantly worried for Blanca & Roja as they tried to better understand each other in the ever-evolving game w/ the swans!

With this book also as a retelling of Snow White & Rose Red, I also loved how Blanca & Roja presented the story + how it was turned introduced into the story itself + delivered in a way that really left so much symbolism.

Another important element to this book that I really loved exploring was the forest! Its very much its own world and represented many different things to Blanca, Roja, Page & Barclay! It was a place of peace & transition, but also a place of fear and inevitability, that I found was described so wonderfully and you could see its duality through each POV! It is a place of beauty, but has a darkness to it and I adored that exploration!

My only minor issue (which is totally on me) & why I’m leaving it at 4.5 for now, is that I did spend a little more time reading this book than I would have liked (b/c there’s always so many books I need to catch up on 😂) But regardless of that, because I also found myself taking my time with this story, I loved that I truly got to understand Blanca, Roja, Barclay & Page so much!! They really came to life & their whole group dynamic was just so complex, multi-layered & developed from the very beginning to the very end!

Blanca & Roja is a story that really explores the relationships/dynamics we have with those we love and that was easily one of the overarching elements of this novel that was present from page 1 all throughout the story!

Blanca & Roja is an unforgettable, magical, beautifully written, & captivating story I will never forget! As with McLemore’s other novels, a lush and descriptive writing evokes so much as important themes such as family and identity weave their way into the story! The plot is immersive, filled with mystery, the characters are fantastic, and everything about this stunning magical realism tale comes to life with each and every page!

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

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

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: June 19, 2018

Pages: 336 (327 ARC)

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

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

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Bytes I #12

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

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

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

*With so many book deals in May, I decided to mention ones I’m personally really looking forward to/want to feature, but will link each release report for you to check out all the book deals!*

Adaptation News

1. Gentleman’s Guide To Vice & Virtue Optioned For TV

Announced May 4 by Variety, Greg Berlanti picked up the rights to Mackenzie Lee’s Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue, for Warner Bros. TV.

2.Looking For Alaska Picked Up As A Limited Series From Hulu

As of May 9, Deadline announced that John Green’s novel Looking For Alaska was picked up by Hulu and “is finalizing a deal for an eight-episode limited series from Paramount Television and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire…

3.The Hate U Give Movie Release Date

Announced May 23 by Angie Thomas through her twitter, she shared that The Hate U Give movie will be releasing: October 19 of this year!

Epic Reads also has a blog post where they summarize all the movie info regarding The Hate U Give Movie Here!

4.The Sun Is Also A Star Cast Update + Release Date

As of May 31, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Charles Melton (known for his role Riverdale) will play the role of Daniel from Yoon’s novel, The Sun Is Also A Star.

The article also mentioned that there is a set release date for The Sun Is Also A Star film, which will be May 17, 2019!

Book Deals

1.Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore + Tehlor Kay Mejia

Set to be released in 2020, authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia announced they would be co-writing Meteor, published by HarperCollins. The novel follows “two friends, one made of stardust and one fighting to save her family’s diner, take on their small town’s 50th annual pageant and talent competition in the hopes that they can change their town’s destiny, and their own” (Announced May 1).

2.Descendants Series by Tracy Deonn Walker

With the first novel of this YA Contemporary Fantasy series set to be released in Summer 2020 by Simon Pulse, its “pitched as a modern-day King Arthur retelling with Southern Black Girl Magic, the book follows a teenage girl who infiltrates a secret society of powerful magic wielders to find out the truth behind her mother’s untimely death” (Announced May 1).

3.Deathless by Namina Forna

Set for a Spring 2020 release date with Delacorte, Deathless is the first book in a YA Fantasy trilogy that is “about a West African-inspired blood ceremony that reveals whether or not females are “pure” enough to be members of the village, and an army of ostracized girls with extraordinary gifts training to kill” (Announced May 1).

4.Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Set to be released in 2020 with Simon Pulse, author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, has an upcoming YA Contemporary Romance which follows “two rival overachievers who realize they may actually love each other over the course of 24 hours on the last day of senior year” (Announced May 1).

5. Alliance by Jennieke Cohen

Set to be released in Fall of 2019 with HarperCollins, Alliance is a YA Historical Fiction “set in Georgian London’s high society. The book’s heroine, a contemporary of Jane Austen, uses Austen’s novels as a guide to navigate a treacherous season in which she must find a husband or lose her family estate to her sister’s villainous husband” (Announced May 1).

More Book Deals from May 1

6. As We Go Forth by Austin Siegemund-Broka + Emily Wibberley

Set to be released through Puffin in Spring 2020, As We Go Forth is “a contemporary romance told in alternating perspectives; it features Juniper and Fitz, two high school seniors with vastly different views about the future, who meet unexpectedly on their respective college tours ” (Announced May 7).

7.Finale by Stephanie Garber

Through Garber’s twitter, she announced there would be a third book to her Caraval Series, titled Finale!

While there is no set release date, it scheduled for a 2019 release (Announced May 8).

8.Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Set to be released in 2019 with Scholastic, Truly Madly Royally is a YA Rom-Com in which “16-year-old Zora meets a boy named Owen, who turns out to be a prince and invites Zora to be his guest at his big brother’s royal wedding” (Announced May 14).

9.Untitled YA Fantasy Deals by Laura Brooke Robson

Set to be released in Spring of 2020 with Penguin/Dawson, Robson’s first standalone is “an apocalyptic fantasy told in alternating POVs about the leader of a band of female elite royal aerialists, whose plan for survival depends on marrying the prince—until she meets the alluring new recruit who secretly plans to kill him” With the second novel set to be released in 2021 (Announced May 14).

More Book Deals From May 14

10. Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Set to be released in 2020 with Wednesday Books, Angeles’s YA Fantasy debut is “Pitched as The Phantom Of The Opera meets Moulin Rouge…The story follows Hellfire House’s star showgirl who, haunted by a dark past, must enter a magician’s competition in order to secure her freedom from the handsome, enigmatic keeper of the club, even as mysterious accidents seem to plague her every move” (Announced May 17).

11.The Wire Crown by Sheena Boekweg

Set to be released in 2020 with Feiwel & Friends, The Wire Crown follows “The daughter of an executioner and the traitorous prince she can’t kill reluctantly join forces to dethrone a paranoid queen after discovering they are trapped in a fantasy video game where one wrong move means game over in that world—and death in the real one” (Announced May 17).

12. All Of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Set to be released in Summer 2019 with Soho Press, All Of Us With Wings is a “fantasy imbued with elements of Aztec mythology”; it follows “a teenage governess living with her young ward Pallas’s glamorous rockstar family in San Francisco ” (Announced May 21).

13.Goddess In The Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

Set to be released in Summer 2020 through Razorbill, Goddess In The Machine is about a girl and when she “wakes from a cryogenic sleep on a planet she doesn’t recognize, she must team up with the mysterious soldier who woke her to navigate a future world where technology is considered magic and its practitioners revered as Deities” (Announced May 30).

Cover Reveals + Title Reveals

1.King Of Fools by Amanda Foody

As of May 3 Amanda Foody announced on her twitter, the title to the sequel of her most recent novel, Ace Of Shades!

The sequel is titled: King Of Fools

According to Foody’s twitter post, King Of Fools will be released in Spring of 2019!

2.In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

On May 3, The Mary Sue revealed the cover to the 4th book in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series.

The cover reveal also included a sneak peek into some of the artwork.

In An Absent Dream is set to be released January 8, 2019!

3.The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

As of May 9, Bustle revealed the cover of Amy Rose Capetta’s Historical Fantasy debut novel The Brilliant Death!

There was also an excerpt alongside the cover reveal!

The Brilliant Death is pitched as a mafia, queer fantasy romance and is set to be released October 30, 2018!

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose CapettaFor Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. 

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.”

4.Upon A Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker

On May 7, John Joseph Adams (editor) revealed the cover to Ashok K. Banker’s debut Fantasy novel Upon A Burning Throne.

Upon A Burning Throne is the first of a series, set to be released May 7, 2019!

Upon A Burning Throne by Ashok K. BankerThe Burning Throne of the Krushan Empire consumes and turns to ashes any who is found unworthy to rule, while endowing the rightful king with immense power.

Two princes are born in Hastinaga, capitol of the Krushan Empire. They pass the Burning Throne’s Test of Fire, but one is born blind, the other an albino, and the people fear they might not be up to the task of ruling the empire. The two princes—Shvate and Adri—are driven by their determination to quell the doubts of the people and prove that they are capable of reigning. They are put to the test when a powerful demonlord with designs on the Krushan Empire sows dissent among the empire’s allies, and Shvate and Adri must lead the Krushan forces into battle to protect Hastinaga… and to prove that they are worthy of sitting upon the Burning Throne.

5.The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Revealed on May 7 via Entertainment Weekly, was the cover (including an excerpt) for Roshani Chokshi’s upcoming fantasy novel, The Gilded Wolves!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshiAccording to EW, The Gilded Wolves “kicks off an alternately glamorous and dangerous adventure, set in Paris near the end of the 19th century, with the world on the cusp of industry and power, and ancient secrets starting to get dredged up. The book centers on treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, who keeps tabs on secrets better than anyone. When an all-powerful society seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin enlists a band of experts to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris.”

The Gilded Wolves is set to be released January 15, 2019!

6.Children Of Blood And Bone #2 by Tomi Adeyemi Title Reveal

On May 11, the title for the sequel to Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel, Children Of Blood And Bone was announced!

The sequel is titled:

Children Of Virtue And Vengeance

Children Of Virtue And Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi is set to be released March 5, 2019!

7.Wildcard by Marie Lu

On May 14, the sequel/finale to Marie Lu’s Warcross duology, Wildcard had its cover reveal + excerpt via Entertainment Weekly!

Wildcard by Marie Lu is set to be released September 18, 2018!

8. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Entertainment Weekly as of May 18, revealed the cover + a Q&A with Marissa Meyer for the upcoming sequel to The Renegades, which is titled Archenemies!

Additionally, Meyer also revealed that Renegades will be a trilogy!

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is set to be released November 6, 2018!

9.The Speaker by Traci Chee

On May 21, Bustle revealed the cover to Traci Chee’s finale to her Reader Trilogy, titled The Speaker!

The Speaker by Traci Chee is set to be released November 13, 2018!

10. To All The Boys Movie Tie-In Cover

With the Netflix release of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before movie coming August 17, 2018, Jenny Han revealed on twitter, the cover to the movie tie-in edition of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before!

11.The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Perez 

As of May 21, Hypable revealed the cover to K.K. Perez’s 2019 sci-fi novel, The Tesla Legacy!

The Tesla Legacy is set to be released March 12, 2019!

The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Perez“The Tesla Legacy follows a precocious young scientist named Lucy Phelps whose fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel unlocks her dormant electrical powers. As Lucy struggles to understand her new abilities through scientific experimentation, she is thrust into a centuries old battle between rival alchemical societies.

One side wants her help and the other wants her dead, but both believe she is the next step in human evolution. Unfortunately, carriers of the genetic mutation—including Nikola Tesla—have a greatly reduced life expectancy. Even if Lucy can outrun her enemies, she can’t outrun herself.”

12.The Girl King by Mimi Yu

On May 23, the Happy Every After blog revealed the cover + excerpt to Mimi Yu’s Fantasy debut, The Girl King!

The Girl King is set to be released in January 8, 2019!

The Girl King by Mimi YuTwo sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this richly imagined, Asian-inspired fantasy for fans of Renée Ahdieh and Sabaa Tahir.

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: the eldest, assertive Lu, will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Then their father names their male cousin Set the heir instead, throwing both girls’ lives into chaos.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu is forced to flee, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of the decimated Ashina, nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift–and he has no trust for the Empire that killed his family–but working with the princess might be the key to unlocking his true power.

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own hidden power awakens–a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well turn out to be each other.”

13.The Last 8 by Laura M. Pohl

As of May 28, Barnes & Noble Teen Blog revealed the cover + excerpt to Laura Pohl’s 2019 Sci-Fi debut The Last 8!

The Last 8 is set to be released March 5, 2019!

The Last 8 by Laura PohlA high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack!
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.

14.Crown Of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

On May 29, Paste Magazine revealed the cover to Crown Of Feathers a fantasy debut where, “warriors ride phoenixes”

Crown Of Feathers is set to be released in 2019!

Crown Of Feathers by Nicki Pau PretoI had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.”

15.Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

As of May 30, Hypable revealed the cover to Young’s upcoming novel, Girls With Sharp Sticks.

According to Hypable, “Innovations Academy is an all-girls boarding school that promises to create young women fit for the highest echelons of society. They are groomed to be graceful and obedient. They know no arrogance or defiance. Until Mena unlocks a dangerous secret.

When Mena and her friends uncover the truth about their existence, Innovations Academy will find out just how big of a problem they have on their hands. With plenty of drama, twists, and romance, Girls with Sharp Sticks promises to be a page-turner.”

Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young is set to be released April 2019!

16.Brief Chronicle Of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid

On May 30, Pub Crawl revealed the cover to Alsaid’s upcoming contemporary, Brief Chronicle Of Another Stupid Heartbreak!

The cover reveal also included a giveaway pack of Alsaid’s previous books and a copy of Brief Chronicle!

Brief Chronicle Of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid is set to be released April 30, 2019!

Has heartbreak broken her for good?

Dumped by her boyfriend the summer after senior year, teen love and relationship columnist Lu Charles has hit a wall with her writing. The words just won’t come to her like they used to and if she doesn’t come up with a topic for her column, she’ll lose her gig at hip online magazine Misnomer, and the college scholarship that goes along with it.

Her best friend Pete think she should write through her own pain, but when Lu overhears another couple planning a pre-college break up just like hers, she becomes convinced that they’re the answer to cracking her writer’s block. And when she meets them—super-practical Iris and cute, sweet Cal—and discovers they’re postponing their breakup until the end of the summer, she has to know more.

Have Cal and Iris prolonged their own misery by staying together, knowing the end is in sight? Or does the secret to figuring out all this love business—and getting over it—lie with them? One thing is certain—if Lu can’t make a breakthrough before summer is over, she can kiss her future goodbye.

From the acclaimed author of Let’s Get Lost and North of Happy comes a touching exploration of love, relationships, and the pain of breaking up.”

17.Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Teen Vogue, as of May 31, revealed the cover + excerpt to Lilliam Rivera’s 2019 novel Dealing In Dreams , set in the near future!

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera is set to be released March 5, 2019!

Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera“We’re introduced to sixteen-year-old Nalah, who leads the fiercest crew in Mega City. But she envisions a life beyond brutal battles, partying in the metropolis’s hottest clubs, and maintaining curfew for the city-dwellers. Nalah dreams of getting off the streets and making a home in the elite Mega Towers, an exclusive residence that has top-tier resources including a school and health center. The teen receives the opportunity to prove her loyalty to Mega City’s founder: she must cross the border and find a mysterious group called the Ashé Ryders. But as she embarks on her journey, Nalah begins to question what she must do to get what she wants. And is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1.King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo Six Of Crows POV Reveal

As of May 5, Fierce Reads announced through twitter & 2018’s Yallwest Grisha Meet-Up that a Six Of Crows character would be returning w/ their POV in Bardugo’s upcoming 2019 novel:

King Of Scars

The POV will be: Nina Zenik

King Of Scars is set to be released January 29, 2018!

2. IReadYA Reveals Spring 2019 Cover Reveals

As of May 24, I Read YA revealed the covers for their upcoming spring 2019 YA Book Releases!

All the covers can be seen on their twitter!

Tours

1.Monday’s Not Coming Tour

Announced on Tiffany D. Jackson’s instagram May 9, she will be going on tour for her upcoming novel, Monday’s Not Coming!

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. JacksonMonday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Monday’s Not Coming was released May 22, 2018!

The full tour schedule can be viewed on Jackson’s Instagram Here!

2. A Reaper At The Gates Tour

Announced May 17, Sabaa Tahir will be going on tour for the 3rd book in her Ember In The Ashes quartet, A Reaper At The Gates!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa TahirBeyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

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

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

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

A Reaper At The Gates is set to be released June 12, 2018!

The full tour schedule can be viewed Here!

And that’s the YA Book News for May! 😄✨📚

Thoughts on May’s 2018 YA Book News? + Do you have a favorite piece of YA Book News from the month? 📚💻📰✨

Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine ARC Review

Driving By Starlight by Anat DeracineDriving By Starlight by Anat Deracine

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Pages: 288

Available for purchase through The Book Depository: Driving By Starlight

Available for purchase through Bookshop (to support a local indie bookstore): Driving By Starlight

Summary: Sixteen-year-olds Leena and Mishie are best friends. They delight in small rebellions against the Saudi cultural police—secret Western clothing, forbidden music, flirtations. But Leena wants college, independence—she wants a different life. Though her story is specific to her world (a world where it’s illegal for women to drive, where a ten-year-old boy is the natural choice as guardian of a fatherless woman), ultimately it’s a story about friendship, family, and freedom that transcends cultural differences.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Driving By Starlight is a phenomenal YA Contemporary! Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia best friends Leena and Mishail are no stranger to small rebellions! Told through an impactful and beautifully written 1st person POV, Deracine’s debut explores with such depth  family, love, friendship, feminism, and so much more!

You know when a book immerses & impacts you so much throughout its entirety and it leaves you thinking for so long after the final page?

That’s what reading Driving By Starlight felt for me!🌟❤

Driving By Starlight is a thought-provoking read and I loved every single moment of it!

Deracine’s debut is one to read ASAP + Add to your TBR if you haven’t already!! This gem of a novel follows Leena on her journey as she navigates love, family, friendship, and contemplates about her future during her senior year, while also encountering strict laws and rules for women within Riyadh.

It was just so moving and captivating, this novel has easily made it to my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary novels + favorite books of all time!!

Told through such an emotional, thought-provoking, and descriptive POV, we follow Leena and her best friend Mishail who are inseparable!

With strict rules within their town, they find themselves being a bit rebellious. Whether its walking out on their own late at night, wearing western clothing, changing out of or not wearing their abayas etc.

However because of the strict rules within society & fear of being caught by the religious/cultural police , Leena, Mishail, and her friends find themselves unable to fully take hold of their futures.

Deracine’s writing is poetic, moving, and honest! While reading, I may have tabbed quotes/passages at least 20+ times!! 😂💞✨

Told through a first person POV, we follow Leena who has such courage and determination throughout the entire novel shows us how much she is willing to sacrifice for her friends, family, and future!

She lives with her mother and spends as much time as she can with her best friend Mishail! However, her father is in prison for being a rebel against the government and in his absence, must take care of herself and her mother, while also working her hardest towards a future she dreams of!

As for Riyadh, from the descriptions of the deserts, city, clothing, politics, society–everything, Deracine delivers the setting in such a way that it balances the beauty and everyday life for Leena, while also discussing in such a real and honest way, the injustice within society for herself, among other women.

Leena dreams of continuing her passion and pursuit of law after high school. However, the strict rules for her within her town make it increasingly difficult for her to pursue her dreams.

Leena herself is so worldly and just wants to fight for a future she dreams of and, just wants more! However, her fears of what it could mean for her best friend + family, just captured my heart and I rooted for her with each and every page!

I’m not really sure how to go about explaining the plot, because there’s just so much that happens! But, I will say that all though it follows Leena & her story, its also about her friends and family, who come to life through her POV.

Additionally, you truly understand each and every one of the characters when you reach the very end!

There are also quite a number of themes explored throughout this novel, with the three main one’s being family, friendship, and the complexities of being a woman within the restrictions of society!

There’s mystery as well, in terms of the fate of Leena’s father, who we know is currently in prison. However, though he is mentioned throughout the novel, Deracine builds his character with such complexity and mystery, that we see the impact he has made on a number of characters as we delve further into the plot! I loved how Deracine explored his character!

I also loved how female-centered this story was! A majority of the cast is female and this novel also explores female friendship + dynamics incredibly!

Leena, Mishail, and her friends Bilquis, Sofia, and Aisha all attend the same all-girls school and are not strangers to a bit of rebellion themselves (which is why Headmistress Maryam Madam does what she can to ensure their safety, even if she’s well aware of their rebellious schemes).

However, things begin to change when an attack on a neighboring all-girls school, Najd National, introduces the girls to a new friend + Saudi American, Daria Albukhair.

Daria slowly but surely joins Leena + her friend group, but as Daria introduces the girls to a bit more rebellion, Leena not only finds herself worried for her friends safety, but feels she may also be losing her best friend Mishail to Daria.

While this fear that Leena encounters does take more of a central role towards the middle of the novel, the complex friendship is explored so incredibly well, with its ups, downs, and everything in between throughout the novel’s entirety!

Deracine also does a phenomenal job at weaving her characters together! From side characters that become such more prominent as the story progresses, to characters who you see a multitude of sides from as well, the threads of each of these characters weaves in such a way that is truly unforgettable!

While I honestly loved each and every character so much, there are a few I wanted to talk about!

First is headmistress Maryam Madam! While its clear she only wants whats best for the girls, we see how she connects more with Leena and her family as the story progresses! She is such a great character and I loved seeing how her character evolved throughout the novel and that there’s so much more to her than we first expect!

I also really loved Faraz, who is the son of Hossein, (who was a friend of Leena’s father, growing up)! He is so kind and supportive of Leena throughout the entire book! While he only has a couple scenes, he becomes such a prominent character and I loved him so much!!

Similarly, I also really loved Ahmed’s character, who is Daria’s cousin! He connects with Leena easily through her father, who he knew as rebel! Seeing how they connect through a way that Leena finds such difficulty talking about was also so incredibly explored + developed, and similarly to headmistress Maryam Madam & Faraz, Ahmed is a character who develops so much and you see differing sides of him throughout Driving By Starlight!

Continuing with the writing, there were just so many quotes and moments that were so thought-provoking and really left me seeing Leena and her story from so many different angles.

I honestly adored everything about Driving By Starlight! Its immersive, makes you think, has heart wrenching + heart-breaking moments, builds characters and their stories is such a fascinating and absolutely incredible way!

I loved the complex characters, story line, themes, powerful messages of hope–basically everything!!

So, if you haven’t picked up Driving By Starlight yet, I cannot recommend it enough! This novel is truly such a gem!!

Driving By Starlight is a spectacular novel! With an honest, moving and emotionally captivating story, phenomenal characters, and powerful messages, Deracine’s debut is a must read!

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo Review

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene GooThe Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 8, 2018

Pages: 336

Summary: Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

**TW for trypophobia*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Way You Make Me Feel is not a YA Contemporary to miss! With a phenomenal cast of unforgettable characters, brilliant writing-style, and a plot that will immerse start to finish, this is a must-read summer YA Contemporary!

The very 1st novel I read by Goo, was I Believe In A Thing Called Love! I love YA Contemporary and after that book, I knew I would read her future books as well!

The Way You Make Me Feel is a book that is not only a fun and unique story, but also weaves in serious themes revolving around friendship and especially family!

What I also loved about The Way You Make Me Feel, is that even though I got through it within a matter of days, it felt I was with these characters + this story for so long! For me, that’s the best kind of story, where you become so attached to the story, setting, characters, and can’t believe the story is over when you’ve reached the last page!

Clara Shin, our main character, is the star of this novel and I loved her so much! She’s fierce, confident and a bit of trouble-maker!

As summer vacation is on the horizon, Clara has it pretty much planned out: she’s counting down the days to visit her mother Mãe in Tulum, Mexico, while her dad Adrian, works on his KoBra food truck (Korean & Brazilian fusion food).

However, when a school prank gets out of hand with her school nemesis, Rose Carver, her summer is about to change!

In order to pay for the damages caused by the prank, she now has to work on the truck with Rose and feels her entire summer has come crashing down!

Now she’s working with her nemesis, trying to find time for herself and friends Patrick + Felix, make time to plan her trip to visit her mom, and maybe begin to have feelings for a guy (Hamlet) she meets near one of the KoBra stops!

Goo’s writing not only brings the characters to life, but also the vibrant + diverse LA setting! I loved how she brought the setting to life through the littlest details, like the never-ending traffic XD, the weather, food and classic LA stops!

There is also such great diverse representation and I loved that!!~♥♥*:✧ From the Korean-American & Korean-Brazilian rep., to Hamlet who is Chinese-American, Rose who’s Black, hinted at gay rep. (Patrick), and Mexican-American rep. (Felix), Goo does such an amazing job at creating such a diverse cast of incredible characters!!

I loved each and every character! From Clara, her parents, her friends Patrick Keen & Felix Benavides, to Rose, Hamlet Wong, all the main characters just came to life from their very first introductions and I loved them so much!!

The relationships and dynamics are so real and just develop so wonderfully! From Clara & Rose’s development into a beautiful friendship, to the dynamic between Clara & her dad, + the slow but steady development of Clara’s relationship with Hamlet!

Clara is a very confident and rebellious teenager! She speaks her mind and I just loved her so much! She starts off a person who quickly brushes things off, but over the course of the novel begins to find herself changing and growing throughout the summer.

From her outlook on relationships, friendships, commitments, etc. I adored her fierce and confident side, while also loving how she began to view things from a new angle as her summer plans turned out different than she had hoped!

The relationship she develops with Hamlet was so cute! Hamlet was so kind, optimistic, ans just so sweet and I loved his contrast to Clara, seeing their dynamic grow was so lovely!!~ Their development was so well done, I loved their banter and how they grew and changed with each other throughout the summer!

Now as for the dynamic with her dad, Adrian Shin, its clear that while there is such a strong father/daughter bond between them. What I found relatable to their dynamic with my own parents, was the fun/comedic moments they’d share♥♥*:✧~

I loved seeing how Clara not only strengthened her relationship with her dad, but by the end was able to see how even though she saw a lot of herself in her mom, also saw the strengths in her dad that her mother didn’t have.

What I also admire about Goo’s work, is the development of family in her novels, especially this one! From Clara’s parents not being married, but still keeping in contact, the bond Clara has with her dad, and the overall the complexity of family in this novel is something I love and related to so much in this book! Also the family dynamic Hamlet has with “grandparents,” who are actually grandparents of family-friends while his parents are working in China!

I also adored the friendship that developed between Clara & Rose! While they didn’t get along in the beginning, they really formed this beautiful friendship and learn a lot from each other along the way.

Their forced to work together on the KoBra truck, but what surprised me (considering Rose’s very upfront/honest personality) was how she really opened up to Clara + we learn she really finds it difficult to make friends and has anxiety! Seeing how Clara really made so many efforts to make Rose feel included + get her out of her shell was so beautiful to read!

Now I’m going into 1 aspect I didn’t really like (mentioned in the TW), so I may rate this book at 4.5 instead of 5, but still deciding on an exact rating:

**I suppose my only minor issue was the “trypophobiascene. Now, I’ve never felt triggered while reading a book before, so this was–an odd experience. I personally did find this scene triggering and just wanted to mention where it is, in case others who read this book are unaware! I find explaining this for me personally is also a bit triggering, so readers, just be wary & apologies if I’m a bit vague because of it.

I don’t usually read reviews before starting a book (so I was unaware of this scene before hand), but I had seen a couple reviews mention it, after I finished the book and looked on GR. Note: its discussed on pg. 84* (Basically Clara mentions wanting to send her dad certain triggering photos, (aka where the Trypophobia is discussed).

*Acquadimore’s reviews are always so great and found the TW discussed in her review of The Way You Make Me Feel as well!

Aside from that scene however, I really did love this book so much!

Clara undergoes quite a journey as she begins to consider and change her rebellious nature from the start of the novel. She see’s friends + family in a new light, and finds herself growing because of that!

The themes central to this novel that are explored so incredibly well and are at the heart of this story are family & friendship! There is such depth to them that are explored through Clara’s POV and her adventures throughout the summer and I loved that!

The Way You Make Me Feel is a fun + delightful YA Contemporary that captured my heart from page 1! With such incredibly developed characters and themes, a unique and immersive plot, summer adventures, and so much more, this is a perfect YA Contemporary for summer!

Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi Review

Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi AdeyemiChildren Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy Of Orïsha #1)

Publisher: Henry Holt Books For Young Readers (Fierce Reads)

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Pages: 525

Summary: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

*There will be a few spoilers in this review!*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Children Of Blood And Bone is an epic YA Fantasy you don’t want to miss! Written through 3 fantastic POV’s Adeyemi’s tale delves into such timely subjects, while developing a rich, magical world all throughout her brilliantly woven plot!

Children Of Blood And Bone was amazing from start to finish! I honestly don’t know how I’ll be able to wait for Book 2! 😂✨

Zélie lives in Ilorin, a small ocean village in the land of Orïsha, with her father and brother, Tzain. She, among others in her world, are either maji (those who have unlocked their magical abilities) or Divîners, those who have yet to unlock their abilites (though they are all identified by their white hair).

Majis + Divîners are looked down on by King Saran and the monarchy. With his ruthless and harsh ideologies surrounding them, they are treated brutally.

My heart broke for the Majis + Divîners and what they endured under the king and his guards.

The 3 differing POV’s were so distinct, while also weaving together and developing so well, that I truly loved each and every character from Zélie, to rogue princess Amari, and Amari’s brother, prince Inan.

Through the writing you get not only get such a strong sense of their characters, but also see how their views either change or grow as the story progresses. The way their stories intertwine was so brilliantly done and not once was I ever confused as to who’s POV I was in!

Adeyemi’s writing is cinematic and the first person POV builds Zélie, Amari, and prince Inan into such deeply moving characters, but also the family they have and how their beliefs allow them or not, to see each other and their goals in differing ways.

Overall just seeing the depth and conflict that each of the 3 main characters had and how it pushed them throughout the novel was brilliantly explored. The  complexity and depth to these characters, built and developed so well through the people they know/encounter, even the side characters!!

The antagonistic characters are also written in such a way that even though they have done such brutal and awful things, through Inan’s POV you begin to (while not sympathize) but understand where their coming from when it comes to their views on magic.

The characters are delivered with such complexity, that their motivations/personality are seen in such differing lights as you progress and I loved that! Seeing such conflicting sides to a lot of the characters just continued to build even more into the already amazing story!

Zélie soon finds the opportunity to bring magic back and with the passing of her mother (who was a Reaper; which involved having magic revolving around life and death) + the grief she endures, knows its what is best for her and the people of Orïsha! She is such a brave and determined main character, you will root for her all throughout her journey!

She soon finds herself meeting princess Amari and she joins Zélie + Tzain on their quest. What made this journey so interesting too, was how Inan wove his way into the story and seeing how much he grew as he was tasked with tracking them down!

I also loved the sibling dynamics, especially between Zélie and Tzain! Seeing how their relationship grows + changes as Tzain understands Zélie’s determination to bring magic back all throughout Children Of Blood And Bone, was written and explored so well through not only Zélie’s POV, but also Inan’s and Amari’s especially.

There’s also the amazing female friendship that develops between Zélie and Amari! Though Zélie is hesitant at first, I loved seeing their friendship, among others that Zélie makes, grow over the course of the novel! I also loved the friendship/dynamic between Tzain & Amari!

Family and the bonds we have with those we love was a theme so deeply explored throughout the novel and you got a sense of it with each page.

The world-building was excellent! There’s so many locations that are explored across Orïsha throughout this story. I find what happens most times with fantasy books is that settings almost blend together. However, that is not the case with this book!

The rich culture and mythology sweeps itself into each page of the story and continues to build till the very end. Additionally, Adeyemi explores + tackles racism and injustice + w/ inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement in this novel as well, its just so powerful and I find it’s important to see it explored, discussed, and tackled in YA Fantasy!!

Each new location is vibrant, descriptive, and atmospheric, as Zélie, Tzain, & Amari are on their quest to restore magic!

The plot has everything! Magic, adventure, politics, & so much more!

I truly loved each of the main protagonists! But the characters I felt really stuck with me, were Zélie + Inan! With these two on opposing sides and seeing how they clashed, while also forging a bond with each other as the novel progresses was developed in such a brilliant way.

Seeing especially how Inan’s allegiances change as he we learn more about him + how he grew to better understand what Zélie and other maji’s/divîners go through, was such a pivotal point in his development. While there’s still the duty he has to his father + his kingdom, he slowly begins to see how magic wielders of Orïsha are treated and the pain + suffering they’ve endured.

As an aspiring writer, I truly enjoyed the reading experience, from analyzing the writing-style to the world-building, characters, etc. I hope to write my own YA Fantasy someday and just reading Adeyemi’s novel really left me feeling inspired to continue with my writing!!

While I’m still debating between 4.5 & 4 34 , the only minor issue I had was that the pacing did slow for me at some points and specifically in a section where Zélie finds herself on a rescue mission. But other than that, I loved everything about this book!

Children Of Blood And Bone is a though-provoking, immersive, and epic YA Fantasy! Adeyemi’s brilliantly developed and complex story weaves in important themes, stellar world-building, action, adventure, and so much more! Children Of Blood And Bone will leave you on the edge of your seat, eager for the next book!

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!

March 2018 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

Here are the YA Books releasing this month, I can’t wait to read! 😍📚🎉

Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi1.Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy of Orïsha #1) (March 6, 2018, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (FierceReads), 544 Pages)

Summary: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo2.The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6, 2018, Harper Teen, 368 Pages)

The Poet X ARC Review

Summary: 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.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo3.To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (March 6, 2018, Feiwel & Friends (FierceReads), 352 Pages)

ARC Review To Come (Currently Reading)

Summary: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth4.Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth (Second Sentinels #1) (March 15, 2018, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 324 Pages)

ARC Review To Come

Summary:Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.

But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a super villain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?

Finding Felicty by Stacey Kade5.Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade (March 20, 2018, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 304 Pages)

Summary:Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.

But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.

Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

The Astonishing Color Of After by Emily X.R. Pan6.The Astonishing Color Of After by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20, 2018, Little Brown Books For Young Readers, 480 Pages)

Summary:Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi7.Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (March 27, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 400 Pages)

Summary:For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Moonstruck Vol. 1 Magic To Brew8.Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic To Brew by Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle (March 27, 2018, Image Comics, 120 Pages)

Summary:Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late.

 

What March 2018 Books Are You Looking Forward To? 😍📚❤✨🍀

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum Review

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

Publisher: Imprint (FierceReads)

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Pages: 320

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

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

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

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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