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!

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November 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh1. Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Rebel Seoul Full Review

Publisher: Tu Books ( Imprint of Lee & Low Books)

Release Date: September 14, 2017

Pages: 389

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This brilliantly plotted YA Sci-Fi/ Dystopia is set in a futuristic Korea and follows Lee Jaewon who is an ex-gang member, who now attends a prestigious military academy. He learns more about his government after an exam gets him assigned to looking after Tera (a super soldier). The writing and plot are so detailed and complex that you get such an immersive view into this sci-fi/dystopian future that Oh delivers with so much heart. This is very much a character and plot-driven story that just builds and builds to the very end! There’s action, politics, intrigue, and robots! 

Gray Wolf Island Tracy Neithercott2. Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

Gray Wolf Island Full Review

Publisher: Knopf BYR

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 336

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: When Ruby’s twin passes away, she sets out to fulfill her last wish to find the rumored treasure of Gray Wolf Island. There’s mystery, great character dynamics, and atmospheric writing that really brings the story to life. If your looking for an adventure tale with vivid setting, characters, and a hint of magic, this is definitely the book for you!

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes3. The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

The Little Queen Full Review

Publisher: Poetose Press

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Pages: 110

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This is an enchanting story that reads very much like a timeless fairy tale as we follow The Little Queen as she sets out a journey across her kingdom, figures out what it means to be a ruler, and makes new friends along the way. For such a short book, I really resonated with the inspiring messages about life, overcoming fears and change! I easily became connected to the characters and the magical world of The Little Queen.

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman4. Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman (Vengeance Road #2)

Retribution Rails Full Review

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 374

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Retribution Rails was wonderful conclusion to Vengeance Road! With a new set of characters set 10 years after and told through dual POV, we follow Rose Riders gang member Reece Murphy and aspiring journalist Charlotte Vaugn as the search for the owner of a mysterious gold coin brings them together! I loved the characters so much and this was such a plot-driven story that you really get a full scope of 1880’s Arizona. While there were so many things I loved about this book, the pacing did get pretty slow throughout the middle, felt some characters could have been expanded on a little more and wanted even more development with Reece & Charlotte! But overall this was such a character-driven and action packed addition to Vengeance Road that really stands great on its own!

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O' Neill5.The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’ Neill

The Tea Dragon Society Full Review

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: October 18, 2017

Pages: 72

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: This beautifully illustrated graphic novel follows Greta when she saves an injured tea dragon and is given the opportunity to learn more about them. This story is just so heart-warming and adorable! With friendship and the beauty of art and craft such prevalent themes of this story, you really become enchanted by the world of the tea dragons! Its also very diverse with characters of color, glbt relationships hinted at throughout, characters with disabilities and differing body-types! The Tea Dragon Society is whimsical, magical, and enchanting! Such a wonderful read!

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga6. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Here We Are Now Full Review

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 304

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Another deep and character-driven YA Contemporary from Jasmine Warga! This novel is about family and you really sense that throughout the story. Following Tal, she reconnects with her rock-star father when he shows up at her door to explain that his father is passing away and would like her to see him. From there she learns more about what caused her parents to split and the importance of family, music, and new beginnings! You know when you read a book at just the right time? That’s what reading Here We Are Now was like! I loved the writing, characters, and the important themes weaved throughout. If your looking for a moving and intricately woven YA Contemporary, this is definitely one to check out!

Additional Posts From This Month:

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

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄✨📚

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill Review

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O' NeillThe Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’ Neill

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: October 18, 2017

Pages: 72

Summary: From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Tea Dragon Society is a beautifully illustrated tale following Greta, the new friends she meets, and her adventures when she gets introduced to Tea Dragons! With an enchanting plot, delightful characters, and an immersive tale, you’ll fall in love with the charming world of the Tea Dragon Society!

If you don’t read many graphic novels, I highly recommend checking this one out! Originally I read The Tea Dragon Society as a web-comic and when I heard the Katie O’ Neill was releasing it in book form, I decided to wait until reading it fully in physical form ❤

The Tea Dragon Society is just the cutest!! ❤ ❤ I adored it so much~

Greta is the daughter of a blacksmith and the story kicks off when she finds and saves an injured tea dragon in the market place. This leads her to return the dragon to the owner, Hesekiel (who is also a tea merchant + tea shop owner) and learn more about the art of tea-making and Tea Dragons themselves.

From there she meets Minette who has a mysterious past of her own and Erik, long-time friend and partner of Hesekiel!

The Tea Dragons themselves were just so unique and beautifully illustrated! Each dragon grows leaves from their branch-like horns and the leaves and when harvested, create differing teas that can also have magical properties.

The plot is just so heart-warming and just introduces a uniquely magical and beautiful diverse world where dragons, people, goblin & animal-like people, live together in such harmony. There’s also GLBT+ romances and relationships shown + hinted at throughout the story and they were just so beautifully introduced and developed.

Additionally, it was just so great to see such diversity among the cast not just with characters of color such as Greta, her parents, and Erik who where dark and brown-skinned, but also showing characters with disabilities such as Erik in a wheelchair, and characters with differing body-types. 

The story is split among seasons as Greta grows to learn more about the tea dragons and her new friends, such as Minette who had lost her memory and was staying at a house close to the tea shop. The two form a bond over the course of the story as they learn more about each other as they spend time at Hesekiel’s tea shop and around town.

Another element I loved about The Tea Dragon Society so much was the focus on craft and preservation of art, shown not only through the tea dragons, but Greta’s mother’s blacksmith job too, like making swords. She mentions that even though not many people use them anymore, she still makes them and reminds Greta just how important it is to keep crafts alive~

I adored the Katie O’Neill’s art and illustrations so much! Its colorful, whimsical, and just beautiful! 

I just wish this story was longer! You really become attached to the story, characters and magical world so much! I was so sad when it came to an end. This was just one of those books for me, where once I set it down, just wanted to pick it back up & read it all over again~😭✨💕🍃

The Tea Dragon Society is a magical, diverse, and enchanting story that follows Greta as she learns more about tea dragons, crafts, and her new friends! You’ll fall in love with this charming, immersive & magical tale!

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes Review

The Little Queen by Meia GeddesThe Little Queen by Meia Geddes

Publisher: Poetose Press

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Pages: 110

Summary:When her mother and father pass away, the little queen must figure out how to be a little queen. And so she begins her adventures, journeying away from her palace and into the world to determine how she should go about going on. The little queen soon encounters numerous folks who teach her a thing or two: the book sniffer, the dream writer, and the architect of silence are just a few. Along the way, the little queen finds friendship, love, and meaning in being a leader in her world. The Little Queen is a magical exploration of self-discovery, vocation, community, and home.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Little Queen is a beautifully written tale follow a girl who is unsure whether she can be queen. Told through an enchanting writing-style, the Little Queen goes on a journey across her kingdom and learns more about herself, life, and her kingdom!

First off I just want to say thanks so very much to Sil from TheBookVoyagers for introducing this book to me (follow her if you haven’t, she’s amazing; always supporting/championing diverse books! She’s such an inspiring book blogger & is just lovely <3)

I read her review of this novella and it sounded like such a delightful and magical read, I put it on my tbr right away!

From the very first line, I fell in love with The Little Queen! It reads very much like a timeless fairy tale. The writing is simple, but delivers magic & wonder with each page! It such a memorable tale that was just inspiring and magical!

We follow the Little Queen as she travels across her kingdom when she finds herself unsure of whether she can even be a queen! Along the way she meets new friends & learns more about life, her world, and where she is meant to be!

With the passing of her parents, she still feels both sorrow and loneliness. She knows she doesn’t have what it takes to be queen, so she sets out on a quest to find a worthy replacement and better figure out what she wants out of life.

Along the way she meets a unique cast of characters from a Book Sniffer, Wall Sawyer, Sleep Soother, Seasons Collector, and so many more! As she learns more about each of these women, she finds she learns more about who she is, the little wonders in life, and the strength within herself to grow and learn more about her world.

What I also loved about each character the Little Queen meets, is the hidden messages each revealed about life, from the magic in the littlest of things, to the inspiring messages of growth, change, exploration and overcoming your fears to see the world from a different angle every now & again!

This is practically an all-female cast! Which was fantastic, though it is such a short story you feel so connected to the magical world and its characters. Each of the people the Little Queen encounters, has some sort of magical ability or talent that contributes to some aspect of the kingdom + world the Little Queen is a part of. Additionally, there is a sweet f/f romance that develops as the Little Queen goes on her journey~

As mentioned above, the magical and fantasy elements, while present, are delivered in a way where its read in a very subtle/quiet, but enchanting way! Where you could practically sense the magic through the page! I loved that about this novella so much!

Additionally, the writing itself is simple, but so descriptive which not only transports you, but really gives this novella the feel of a classic and timeless fairy tale. I honestly would love more books from the The Little Queen’s world, there were many moments reading this novella where I could just picture the vastness of the world.

My only minor issue was that the ending did feel a bit rushed.

Female-driven, lush writing, immersive storytelling, we follow a young queen’s journey as she finds out more about herself and what it means to be queen. The Little Queen is a delightful novella which reads very much like a timeless fairy-tale!

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

Diverse YA Books To Add To Your TBRBack in January I made a post sharing Diverse Books for a Winter TBR where I shared books releasing that season which featured YA Books by authors of color, #OwnVoices, had LGBTQIA+ characters, or featured characters of color! Sadly I didn’t make one for Spring + Summer as I’d been planning to, but in 2018 I will definitely make an effort to do a list for each season~

Now I will share with you the diverse books coming out/already released this Fall that I’m super excited to read (or one’s I’ve already read & Loved! <3)  that you should add to your TBR if you haven’t already!

Similar to the first post, they’ll be categorized by genre + release date~

I’m hoping to put as many as I can, however if there are any YA Books I’ve missed or one’s that you’ve recently heard of, definitely leave a comment below so others can add it to their tbr too!

Contemporary

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera1.They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Harper Teen

Summary: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins2.You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Summary: Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes3.The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes

The Victoria In My Head ARC Review

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary: Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman4. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

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.

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta5. Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary: Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo6. A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers

Summary: The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos7. Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Summary: In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone8. Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Crown BYR (Random House)

Summary: Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez9. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Knopf BYR (Random House)

Summary: Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal? 

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani10. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

Release Date: October 24, 2017

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Summary: Taja Brown lives with her parents and older brother and younger sister, in Houston, Texas. Taja has always known what the expectations of her conservative and tightly-knit African American family are—do well in school, go to church every Sunday, no intimacy before marriage. But Taja is trying to keep up with friends as they get their first kisses, first boyfriends, first everythings. And she’s tired of cheering for her athletic younger sister and an older brother who has more freedom just because he’s a boy. Taja dreams of going to college and forging her own relationship with the world and with God, but when she falls in love for the first time, those dreams are suddenly in danger of evaporating. 

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga11. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Balzer +Bray

Summary: Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Fantasy

Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao1.Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (Rise Of The Empress #1)

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Philomel Books

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi2Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Publisher: Razorbill

Summary: In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life. 

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne3. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Summary: A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

Magical Realism

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore1.Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty ARC Review

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Summary: Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry2. All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry

All The Wind In The World Book Review

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: October 10, 2017

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

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

Science Fiction

Warcross by Marie Lu1. Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

Warcross ARC Review 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh2.Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Publisher: Lee & Low Books (Tu Books)

Release Date: September 14, 2017

Summary: After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Historical Fiction

The Girl Wth The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke1. The Girl With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Publisher: Albert Whitman Company

Release Date: September 1, 2017

Summary: When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process. 

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill Review

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'NeillPrincess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 56

Summary:When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.

Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: This fast-paced fairy tale follows 2 princesses and their adventures across a kingdom. Not only are there so many positive and inspiring messages in Princess Princess Ever After, but O’Neill also puts twists and spins on fairy tale tropes!

I loved this graphic novel ❤ it was pretty quick, but adorable!~ I also felt myself getting into another reading slump, but Princess Princess Ever After, pulled me right out of it!

The story begins with Amira who is traveling across the kingdom when she hears Sadie from her tower and decides to rescue her from her tower.

“Dozens of princes already failed. What makes you any different?

Because I am no prince!”

From the very beginning its clear that there is a connection between Princess Amira and Sadie! They develop a great friendship as they leave the tower and travel across the kingdom.

Princess Amira is shown to have dark skin, while Sadie is shown to be “big-boned” and obviously there is a sweet relationship that develops between the two over the course of the story.  It was great to see tons of diversity!

Its revealed that Sadie sabotaged all those who would attempt to rescue her because she was told by a sorceress to never leave.

Not long after, they meet Prince Valdric who needs their help to get revenge on an ogre (who also managed to destroy a village nearby). After its discovered that the ogre was just dancing, Sadie and Amira spend the day teaching the ogre to dance more safely to avoid destroying anymore villages.

What I loved about this story was the twist and spins O’Neill put on classic fairy tale tropes. Its revealed that Prince Valdric feels there’s a lot of pressure on him, by his family to be the type of prince who slays monsters, etc., but reveals that isn’t who he really is, or wants to be.

When the sorceress returns to take back Sadie, she takes Amira instead and its revealed that the sorceress is actually Sadie’s sister (the current queen). After they save the day, Sadie takes the throne, but it will take time before she can fully take on her role.

As for Amira, she knows she still needs to learn more about what it means to be a hero. Sadly the two spend time apart for quite a number of years.

However, by the end they’re reunited and have their happily ever after.

There were so many positive/inspiring messages in this story about body image, gender, and what it means to be a hero.

I also really love Katie O’Neill’s art style and cannot wait to read her next webcomic turned book: The Tea Dragon Society (which I’m still currently reading & love so much ❤ <3)

I did want to the story stretched out a little longer, because it felt the pacing was just a little too quick. And I really wanted to see more of these amazing characters.

Overall Princess Princess Ever After is a cute and sweet fairy tale of princesses falling in love. It features such inspiring and positive messages, creative spins on classic fairy tale tropes, and is a great read for fans of graphic novels and comics. 

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire Review

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuireDown Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 189

Summary: Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Dark, gothic, and atmospheric, Down Among The Sticks An Bones is a a prequel which follows twins Jacqueline & Jillian and their adventures in the Moors set before the events of Every Heart A Doorway!

What I love about this series, is how McGuire is able to pack in so much story and character depth into such few pages! Every Heart A Doorway was just so unique and magical, I was happy to be getting more tales from this world💖~

Having a twin sister myself, I was beyond heartbroken at the forced separation that Jack & Jill were grown into from the very beginning and seeing the rift between them grow with each turn of the page. Reading passages of their resentment and just few feelings they had for each other, left me feeling so sad!

I felt the story started out completely strong with the background on their parents (Serena & Chester) and how their decision to have children really impacted how Jack & Jill would grow and see themselves. It really set the stage and tone for the rest of the story.

With their parents having their own selfish desires for what they wanted their perfect children to be, Lousie Wolcott (Chester’s mother) did her best with the time she spent with them to remind the girls to be themselves and not let anyone control who they want to become.

This quote resonated with me throughout the rest of the story “She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and all of them were valid…(34).

Jack was molded by Serena and forced to be a proper lady in her mothers eyes, while Jill was forced to be more of a tomboy, by Chester. Up until the age of 12, they lived very different lives under the same roof and there was a rift between them because of it.

Later they soon find a doorway that leads them to the Moors and their 5 year journey begins.

Jack and Jill go their separate ways and undergo their own personal journey and we get a better understanding of who they are and how they try to break free of their parent’s molds.

Additionally there is an f/f relationship that develops nearing the middle/end of the novel!

I felt the 3rd person narrative really gave a broad scope at the world and each character in this story, which made it easy to get a sense of each character, Jack & Jill’s home life + their new life at the Moors. However, there’s just something about this novel (from the writing-style) that delivered a more “telling” rather than “showing” at times, which made the novel feel rather flat in some aspects.

While the story really did resonate with me, I couldn’t help but still feel a disconnect through the writing. Additionally, unlike Every Heart A Doorway, I felt this novel’s pacing felt much slower, which took me out of the story.

Honestly I have so many conflicting feelings about this book, because while there’s a lot that I really loved about it, I loved Every Heart A Doorway a little more~ 😭❤️🚪

Aside from those minor issues, there was still so much that I really loved about this novel. The uniqueness of the plot itself, the atmosphere of the world, and I also loved the positive messages about what it means to be a girl.

Down Among The Sticks And Bones introduces a much darker and brutal world compared to the first novella, it also delivers such powerful messages on who we are vs. what we become as a product of our environment.

Through thought-provoking writing, McGuire sets the stage for a dark but whimsical fairy tale-like world where the choices we make impact who we become.

While I had a few issues, I really enjoyed this sequel and cannot wait to read how this trilogy wraps up in Beneath A Sugar Sky!