The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil A Rún Vol. 1 {Manga Review}

The Girl From the Other Side-Siúil, A Rún Vol. 1The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil A Rún Vol. 1 {TGFTOS #1}

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: January 24, 2017

Pages: 180

Summary: In a world split between the Inside and the Outside, those living in both realms are told never to cross over to the other side, lest they be cursed. A young girl named Shiva lives on the other side, in a vacant village with a demonic guardian known only as “Teacher.” Although the two are forbidden to touch, they seem to share a bond that transcends their disparate appearances. But when Shiva leaves Teacher’s care to seek out her aunt, the secret behind her mysterious living arrangement comes to light.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: As though it were a fairy tale, The Girl From The Other Side is both dark and enchanting!

This manga was utterly fantastic!! I found this one while scrolling through Goodreads and it was the cover that originally had me sold! However, once I read the summary I knew I would adore it!

The story unfolds as we come to learn about the rules that govern the world for the Outsiders, who are still human to some degree, but are creatures of darkness that can turn men to monsters with a single touch.

A dark and mysterious plot drives this manga forward, with such in-depth characters and themes of family, and the shades in between light + darkness!

Shiva, a young girl, lives on the Outside w/ Teacher who is her guardian (+ an Outsider himself) in a quiet little cottage and watches over her as she waits for her aunt to return.

Shiva is a very optimistic child and is eager to explore what’s in the forest beyond the small cottage where they both live.

However, Teacher wants to ensure her safety and keep an eye on her at all times, because he doesn’t want her to become an Outsider as well!

Teacher is a very kind and understanding, however when its discovered he has a secret which is vitally linked to Shiva, he is unsure of what to do because he wants to ensure her happiness.

Regardless, he does all he can to keep Shiva safe, even when she finds herself deep in the forest and runs into guards from a near by town.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the Outsiders and how they came to be, yet the guards from a near by town suspect it was neighboring town, however no one knows for certain.

There’s a big discussion on how we view those who are different (w/ the Outsiders vs. Insiders for instance) when guards search the woods of the Outside to ensure the safety of their town as they continue their search to rid themselves of Outsiders.

The sophisticated, yet subtle artwork is masterfully done. Teacher, for instance, being an Outsider is a hybrid sorts (donning a shadowed animal-head, mouthless face and piercing eyes). However through the art his expressions are carried through mostly his eyes, yet also in the elegant way he carries himself.

Through the artwork, Nagabe also brings an eeriness to the world itself, but transports the reader in an instant.

The Girl From The Other Side is a dark, mysterious and magical tale that has so much depth from its characters to plot, you will be hooked from page 1!

Waiting On Wednesday I #8

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly post originally created by the book bloggers over at

BreakingTheSpines to spotlight upcoming releases!

This week I will be spotlighting…

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

Publisher: Philomel Books

Release Date: October 10, 2017

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.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance.

The summary alone had me automatically add this book to my Fall TBR! + The cover is fantastic!!

+ I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge of East-Asian folklore, so through Dao’s novel I’m also beyond excited to read more about it through a fantasy setting! ❤

YA Fantasy is easily one of my new favorite genres and I’m always on the look-out for new and fascinating stories! + I’m always happy to read/support diverse books! ❤ ❤

+ From what I’ve read/heard online this is supposed to also be an Evil Queen retelling, which sounds so cool!

Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns isn’t set to come out till October, but I seriously cannot wait! It sounds beyond amazing!

Are you planning to read Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns? 

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 🙂

 

Traitor To The The Throne Playlist

traitor-to-the-throne-playlistToday’s playlist is inspired by Traitor To The Throne, the sequel to Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton!

I adored this novel and felt it was a fantastic sequel, from the expansion of the world to the awesome character development!

If you’ve read Traitor To The Throne or want to read my thoughts you can check out my review Here!

Songs featured in this playlist are from:

~Derek & Brandon Fiechter~

~Final Fantasy XIII/XV ~Final Fantasy Tactics~

While reading I felt these songs went perfectly with the high stakes/intrigue of this novel + the overall world of Miraji!

Let me know your thoughts on the Reading Playlist in the comments below! 🙂

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones Review

wintersong-by-s-jae-jonesWintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Publisher: Thomas Dunne

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 436

Summary: Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Wintersong is an enchanting masterpiece! A tale of family, sibling love + loyalty, and belonging!

Oh gosh I loved Wintersong so much! It was an utterly phenomenal story that I will truly never forget! ❤

I went into this book with super high expectations and was not disappointed! 

Told through Liesl’s elegantly constructed POV, she has grown up with tales of The Goblin King and for years has roamed Goblin Grove, enchanted by her grandmother’s stories. Now 19, she finds herself brought to the Underworld when her sister Käthe gets taken and goes to her rescue!

Being a gifted composer, she sees herself as invisible compared to her other siblings and feels she will forever be nothing but a shadow among them and their successes. She has always put others before herself and her father discourages her from continuing her music, certain that Josef will bring the family great fortune and success.

I don’t think Wintersong would have been the musically + lyrically crafted tale it was without being told through Liesl’s POV! Jones effortlessly weaves music and magic into Wintersong and shows all throughout the story!

Additionally the Underground and even Golbin Grove  Jones crafted was utterly magical and the writing truly brings her settings to life!

While this is a retelling of Labyrinth (+ I’ve seen parts of it & have some basic knowldege of it) + the poem (which I’d never heard of before) “The Goblin Market“, Wintersong really stands on its own and delivers its own unique story!

She has never felt like she belongs, is overlooked for her musical abilities, and yearns for independence + a place to call her own in the world. I sympathized with her desire of belonging & felt my heart ache for the struggles she went through!

However no matter what, we learn that music and love in her heart is what truly makes her shine.

I adored all the characters! They were all spectacularly written and came to life on the page no matter how long or short their appearances were.

Constanze, Liesl’s grandmother, has told her and her younger siblings (Käthe + Josef)  legends told throughout their youth of The Goblin King and Liesl can’t help but be enchanted! She’s a big believer in the tales and legends.

Josef, the youngest brother, has always been close with Liesl and though he’s a rather shy and nervous person, he finds happiness when being with Liesl and playing music with her.

Käthe, Lisel’s 17-year old sister, is seen as more beautiful and with a marriage already set for her, she is seen as more accomplished than Lisel.

The Goblin King himself was a very mysterious, but captivating character that I was curious to know more about from the very beginning!

On the day when Josef has an important violin audition which could bring great opportunities to their family, Käthe and Liesl head to the local market to pick up clothing alterations for him.

However, Liesl notices a mysterious stranger in the market and after receiving a gift from him, she begins to notice a change in Käthe and realizes she’s been claimed by the Goblin King.

She then goes on a journey to find a way into the Underworld to get her sister back.

Yet magic and wishes come with a price in this tale and over the course of the story Lisel must make tough decisions to ensure her sister’s safety and come to terms with who is and who she wants to be.

Always being linked to her gift of music, she learns how powerful her music can truly be and how that connects her to the Goblin King.
Overall Wintersong is an enchanting tale that will captivate you, start to finish! Lush writing weaves with the beauty of music, to deliver a tale of sibling love/loyalty, family, and independence! This wondrous story will stay with you long after the final page!

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a Wintersong Playlist! 😍🎧📚

February 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 8

traitor-to-the-throne-by-alwyn-hamilton1.Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel Of The Sands #2)

Traitor To The Throne Full Review

Publisher: Faber&Faber

Release Date: February 2, 2017

Pages: 512

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic sequel that truly surprised me! Hamilton focuses more on the politics and world of Miraji, while expanding on the magic/mythology. Her writing style as with Rebel keeps the story moving and really immerses you into the story! I am beyond excited for what’s to happen in Rebel Of The Sands #3!

kings-cage2.King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)

King’s Cage Full Review

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 528

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

Overall Thoughts: The world and characters really develop over the course of this novel compared to the previous installments. There is much needed expansion beyond Norta & many aspects of the world and politics surprised me + really added more depth to the world. However with the addition to multiple POV’s, there was 1 POV in particular really dragged the story  & did more of *showing instead of *telling.  Additionally, there are certain characters who I wish were present more. Regardless, Aveyard’s 3rd installment was entertaining and kept me turning the page! Interested to see how the Red Queen Series ends in Book 4!

welcome-to-the-ballroom-volume-13.Welcome To The Ballroom Vol. 1 by Tomo Takeuchi

Welcome To The Ballroom Full Review To Come

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Pages: 192

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

Overall Thoughts: A great introduction to a new manga series about Tatara, a high school student who gets involved with ballroom dancing! I wish there was more development with the characters b/c they were all introduced wonderfully! Overall there’s comedic moments, dynamic characters and a unique plot that has me eager to read the next volumes!

the-valiant-by-lesley-livingston-book-review4.The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (The Valiant #1)

The Valiant Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A character-driven tale about a Celtic princess turned gladiator! The engaging and well-rounded characters made this novel so much fun to read. I do wish the story’s pacing was a little faster + had more action! Regardless, this was an immersive tale about sisterhood, family, & honor! Cannot wait to read where Fallon’s journey is headed in the sequel!

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchez5.Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Because Of The Sun Full Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: The writing style is very “dream-like” and makes this YA Contemporary so unique! Dani has lost her mother and must adjust to a new life with her aunt in New Mexico. She forges a friendship w/ Paulo and he is very supportive during her time of grieving. There is an additional POV in this story, which added tons of background but did slow the story a little for me. Overall, themes of grief, family, love and loss are weaved perfectly into this novel that truly focuses on Dani’s journey as she comes to terms with her mother’s death.

ronit-and-jamil-by-pamela-l-laskin6.Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Ronit & Jamil Full Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 192

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Written in verse, Laskin’s modern take on Romeo & Juliet is lyrical and fast-paced! Ronit & Jamil can’t help but fall in love. However a wall across their lands keeps them separated, but they know deep down their love won’t be fractured. Conflicts arise and their family wants what’s best for them. While there are some moments it does feel rather rushed, overall this tale delivers a message of hope!

A Conjuring Of Light7.A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Shades Of Magic #3)

A Conjuring Of Light Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 624

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Phenomenal character development + world-building weave throughout the masterfully crafted plot! A truly phenomenal conclusion to the Shades Of Magic Series!

monthly-girls-nozaki-kun-volume-28.Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun  by Izumi Tsubaki (Vol. 2)

Monthly Girls Full Review To Come (Vol. 1-3)

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pages: 144

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun is easily becoming one of my favorite Manga series!
As always, romance/high-school tropes are given unique+comedic spins & that’s what makes it so fun to read! There is tons of character development and the plot continues to be fun, unique, & engaging! Cannot wait to read volume 3!

Additional Posts From This Month:

~None This Month~

A Conjuring Of Light by V.E. Schwab Review

A Conjuring Of LightA Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Shades Of Magic #3)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 624

Summary: The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab.

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Shades Of Magic Series comes to an end in this spectacular + marvelous third and final book, A Conjuring Of Light!

I do not know where to start, but… I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! ❤ ❤

As always Victoria is a master at characters/character-development and this final book felt bitter-sweet, but I adored it all the same!

*I will try my best to leave out major spoilers, however I will mention minor one’s here & there! (Be aware)*

Schwab’s writing as with previous novels is rich + detailed and even in this final novel she continues to build on her fantastical parallel Londons!

She crafts scenes and character struggles with such emotion and gravity, you feel for each and everyone as you turn the page!

Another aspect which made this novel a well-rounded and overall epic conclusion was the immense development + inclusion to a number of characters we’ve seen/read about in previous installments!

Osaron has conjured up a devious plan to conquer Red London for himself however Kell & the crew, while they have their clashes, are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their world safe.

While reading this novel, I couldn’t help but realize with each + every page Schwab continued to build the world to the very end! Her world-building is a huge foundation to this series and she truly approaches it with finesse & subtlety because while not every aspect of her worlds can be explained, the mysteries and secrets make it that much more magical!

Adding to the character development, Schwab gives each of the main/prominent characters the perfect amount of space/time throughout the story to follow their internal struggles and triumphs as darkness looms close.

Schwab perfectly balances the grave dark fragments of this world, with hopeful shards of light and its done in an absolutely flawless way!

The core characters, Kell, Lila, Rhy, Holland & Alucard are like a family and this novel truly highlights those important friendships/bonds they have with each other!

Kell and Rhy’s deep bond is also tested as darkness continues to spread and they risk everything to bring peace to their world.

My only minor issue was the slow pacing/dragging of scenes in some parts!

Schwab masterfully concludes her Shades Of Magic Series with A Conjuring Of Light! A truly unforgettable journey to bring an end to an absolutely brilliant and wondrous world!

 

Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton Review

traitor-to-the-throne-by-alwyn-hamiltonTraitor To The Throne (Rebel Of The Sands #2)

Publisher: Faber&Faber

Release Date: February 2, 2017

Pages: 512

Summary: Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Hamilton delivers a character-driven sequel with a bigger focus on politics and intrigue as the rebellion continues!

It felt like forever waiting for this book! 😭😭 I fell in love with the magical world of Miraji and the fascinating characters Hamilton created in Rebel Of The Sands!

I’ll admit getting into this sequel was difficult in the beginning with mentions of new characters or events that happened off page in between Rebel and Traitor, but Hamilton really built and developed those events + characters into the narrative as it progressed!

Months have passed since Rebel and Amani has forged a place for herself in the expanding rebellion and as the Blue-Eyed Bandit.

At the start, she finds herself on a rescue mission to have others rally the cause for the rebellion and its clear to see she has grown both with her powers and as a character since Rebel!

Jin is off doing his own mission, however Amani can’t help but feel like he abandoned her. While the whole reason behind this is originally something that happened off-page between Rebel & Traitor, Hamilton not only shows how it impacts Amani and the relationship she forged with him but reminded me how much I truly missed their fun/witty banter and how the rebellion really puts a strain on not only Jin/Amani but on Amani’s other relationships too!

She soon finds herself in the Sultan’s Palace trapped and with no means of escape, but determined to find out as much as she can to help prince Ahmed.

Hamilton delivers a different writing style than in Rebel, introducing myths and stories about other characters throughout a few chapters, which honestly made me feel so much more connected to this world/characters, because it added more background and history!

It also added small breaks in between the story which was nice too!

I really wouldn’t mind reading a full book on Miraji’s myths/legends!(Publishers can we make that happen??) Hamilton merged them into Traitor perfectly! 

Over the course of the story, Amani comes to terms with events that happened in book 1! She knew she left people behind and in this novel she really puts others before herself and considers how her actions could potentially harm or affect the people around her.

As for world-building, politics and intrigue definitely have a much bigger role this time around! Armies & palace intrigue are given center stage as Amani + crew continue their plans for rebellion.

Getting both sides from the rebellion to the Sultan’s rule, forged a much bigger scope of Miraji’s political world from the palace + other lands like Xichia, the Gallan, etc., was so fascinating and really gives you more background on the Miraji you thought you knew!!

As stated above, I applaud Hamilton with the introduction of new characters, because regardless of how much page time they have, they truly came to life and were so memorable! (Sam was definitely my favorite❤️❤️ )

Additionally I applaud the diversity added into Traitor!  Something that I didn’t consider in Rebel which Hamilton mentioned more in Traitor was how being a shape-shifter, Imin was gender-fluid because she felt comfortable being both male/female which was also made clear by Imin’s relationship in Traitor.(LBGT+Gender-fluid)

Hamilton does a spectacular job with character interactions + plot twists, etc! I won’t give much away, but she definitely doesn’t leave any loose ends in this novel and really ties together elements from Rebel + Traitor perfectly!

Through Amani’s 1st person POV, you really are understanding more along the way with her and with each turn of the page, this story kept on surprising me! (Even if it was ways I wasn’t expecting!)

It was fascinating learning more about the rebellion and the kingdom of Miraji as whole, while also introducing us to the Sultan! Amani gets to learn more about the Sultan & Djinni as she comes to question her loyalty to the rebellion + Ahmed’s capability of ruling if he wins this war!

While the beginning + end have significantly more action, I was on the edge of my seat when I began piecing everything together with Amani along the way, which made the last maybe ~20-30 % one of my favorite parts of Traitor!

Character development is huge! This was definitely Amani’s book! With her rebel crew in the background of this novel, she does her best to ensure her own/the Rebellion’s safety by staying loyal to the Sultan, but while not letting secrets spill out!

While Amani + the group dynamic from Rebel isn’t much of a central role in this novel, it focuses more on Amani and her development as a character! However, Hamilton definitely reminds the reader just how attached Amani has become not only to Jin, but the rebel group like Shazad, Ahmed, etc.that she has come to see as her family!

There are so many fantastic elements that while this novel is different from Rebel in ways, it truly was not a let down for me and left me surprised more than anything, even in ways I never expected! It really went above and beyond my expectations!

Traitor To The Throne is easily one of my all-time favorite books so far this year! Delivering betrayals, expansion on world/magic, wonderful character-development, an immersive plot, and  twists + secrets that deliver a truly unforgettable sequel!

I cannot wait to see how Hamilton concludes her Rebel Of The Sands Trilogy with Book 3!

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a Traitor To The Throne Playlist!