The Mystwick School Of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury ARC Review

The Mystwick School Of Musicraft by Jessica KhouryThe Mystwick School Of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: January 21, 2020

Pages: 368

Available Through The Book Depository: The Mystwick School Of Musicraft

Cover Design: Federica Frenna

Summary: Amelia Jones always dreamed of attending the Mystwick School of Musicraft, where the world’s most promising musicians learn to create magic. So when Amelia botches her audition, she thinks her dream has met an abrupt and humiliating end—until the school agrees to give her a trial period.

Amelia is determined to prove herself, vowing to do whatever it takes to become the perfect musician. Even if it means pretending to be someone she isn’t. Meanwhile, a mysterious storm is brewing that no one, not even the maestros at Mystwick, is prepared to contain. Can Amelia find the courage to be true to herself in time to save her beloved school from certain destruction?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

*Received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher* 

My Thoughts: The Mystwick School Of Musicraft is a charming middle grade that follows Amelia Jones when she attends her dream school of Mystwick to continue learning about creating magic through music! Khoury’s novel layers an intriguing magic system, delightful cast of characters, adventure, mystery, and ultimately delivers a vibrant character-driven tale!

I was not expecting to get an ARC of this in the mail, so when I did I was thrilled! I adore Khoury’s writing and the way she creates such unique worlds and memorable characters (such as those in The Forbidden Wish). Hers were some of the earlier YA Books I’d read before becoming a blogger and I was excited to have a chance to read Mystwick, her middle grade debut!

Allowing the story to be told from Amelia’s 1st person POV, you could sense with each page her unique voice/energy that presented a wonder, comedic tone, and fun delivery to such a fascinating story! Her vibrancy as a character shines through, bringing the story to life and you can’t help but want to keep turning the page (I mean not only does the book have such amazing chapter titles, but it also starts with her trying to charm a chicken!!).

On the day of her exam to get into Mystwick (a school for students who want to continue learning how to create magic through music), Amelia knows she still needs a bit of practice, but she quickly makes a new friend at auditions, Jai Kapoor! Loved how their friendship was really developed throughout the book.

Amelia’s audition doesn’t go as planned and her dreams to attend the magical school, start to feel further away! However, due to a mix up she’s given a trial period allowing her to stay. What I really appreciated about the story was how Khoury delivered a tale of growth as we see Amelia overcome this internal conflict, giving it her all to prove that she does belong! Even as she struggles to catch up with the more advanced students, while also keeping her “trial period” situation a secret, she still can’t help but feel even more distant.

Knowing that her (now deceased) mother attended many years ago, she continues to pursue her dream and it gives her the inspiration/motivation to continue to try and boost both her courage and confidence. It also was very interesting to explore the dynamic between Amelia, her grandmother (who’s now her guardian) and why Mystwick is such a tough topic between the 2 of them!

Also one of the even more intriguing parts of this novel was the element of mystery and how it seamlessly wove into the story as a whole.

If you love magical boarding school books, I recommend checking this one out. There’s always something fun to learn about or explore on the Mystwick campus. It also allowed for a lot of time to be spent with the world-building, character development, friendship, and overall magical atmosphere that beautifully weaves itself into our world.

For a standalone, there’s such a deep connection that I felt with the setting (maybe it was because I took my time to read it), but either way it feels incredibly expansive and tied to our world where there’s so much care and development put into it! If you love detailed magic systems, the world of Mystwick is great, there’s lots of explanation as to the different types of magic and instruments, musicians around the world, how the rules of Mystwick make the magic system feel so grand and much more!

Here were a couple of additional details that I wanted to highlight: Novices vs. Maestros, the colors that symbolize different types of magic, Spellstones (a store for magical music sheets), and how magicians can use magic for all sorts of things: Weather, nature, and almost anything else you can think of! *There’s also a sense of limitations to the magic which was explored as well. Also there’s some left unsaid when it comes to some of the magic, which leaves a lot to the imagination which I really appreciated.

A big focus of the plot not only follows Amelia’s daily school life at Mystwick (classes, practicing, trying to fit in with the students, including her roommate Hamako Bradshaw aka Darby), but also her attempts to solve a mystery as to who could be trying to sabotage her chances at staying! The different pockets of mystery become such big parts of the story that unravel throughout the book. It offers a lot to not only the story, but also the characters and their development.

The Mystwick school had a sense of legacy to it that was indescribable. Maybe it was the knowledge of the instructors, the structure to the rules that were laid out, the campus traditions and well-established buildings or perhaps it was the bits and pieces of knowledge we learn through Amelia over the course of the story. There’s an internal skill and strength that Amelia discovers is essential to her growth as a musician and I appreciated the slow progress of that journey.

There’s also a friend trio (what I thought was originally going to be a duo) which really grew on me throughout the book: Amelia, Jai, & Darby! Their dynamic and wacky adventures were so much fun to follow! There was also a good amount of page-time given for Amelia to interact more with other students of the campus–it was those kinds of moments that made Mystwick come to life.

However one of my personal gripes is that Amelia, Jai, & Darby’s friendship felt like it could have been a bigger part of the story too–it breaks off for a little, when a bit of drama/conflict happens throughout the book. I felt it would have shined much better if their friendship was given more page time to develop! But I also appreciated how this is a story about personal growth, hence a lot of internal page time/development with Amelia.

Family (legacy even), friendship, and personal growth were all big themes of this story and really shined through. Khoury really cemented those themes into the story and alongside the plot, were such shining moments of the book.

There’s also such a diverse cast (characters from around the world that attend Mystwick), even a side character mentioned to have a wheelchair. Overall you sense how inclusive the world is, with characters from different backgrounds, ages–even getting small glimpses as to how magic operates outside the US which was great!

There’s even illustrated pages throughout the novel, done by Federica Frenna (who also designed the cover) and it just adds a little something special to the already magical story!

Again while it seems that the story wraps up in a great way for a standalone with all the major plot threads tied up, there’s somethings left unsaid and some new threads included for a possible sequel? I’m not sure if that’s a plan, but I would ABSOLUTELY love another book set in this magical world! It really comes to life and once I reached that last page, I was sad to be leaving the wonderful world of Mystwick!

Also, I’ve heard the audiobook is fantastic! I’ve read that it even includes original compositions and orchestral music throughout the audio! I’m hoping to give it a listen!

The Mystwick School Of Musicraft is a charming middle grade fantasy which blends a character-driven tale with mystery, humor, and a delightful magic system sure to captivate! There’s a lot of depth to the world, its characters, alongside a tale about finding the confidence within yourself. This is a middle grade you don’t want to miss!

Top 5 Wednesday {#2} Underrated Books

top-5-wednesday-booktube-bannerTop 5 Wednesday is a weekly book/booktube meme hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes

originally from Lainey over @ Gingerreadslainey

To learn more about T5W here is the goodreads group: http://bit.ly/1kmldQ6

This weeks T5W I will be listing the Top 5 Books:

Favorite Underrated Books

Listed below are books I absolutely loved that I feel need to be talked about/read more & overall just need more bookish love! 💕

Do you know of any books you feel are underrated? Let’s discuss in the comments below! 🙂

Truest1.Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

I read this book last year and I can honestly say this book has truly stayed with me since then and tops my all-time favorite books list! There’s so much depth and heart to this novel with topics of family, love, loss + it really takes time to discuss topics such as religion and mental illness in a very honest way. The characters, which are wonderfully written/developed will capture your heart + the writing is so beautiful and really creates atmosphere and depth to West’s (the main character) World. I know I was skeptical based on how the summary was written, but if you’ve had this book on your TBR or have been wanting to read it, DO IT!! You won’t be disappointed!

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore2.When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is a marvelous & magical tale more people NEED to read! McLemore delivers a magical-realism story with lush and wondrous writing, phenomenal characters and storytelling! There are so many important messages of culture, identity and family. But overall its the story of Miel and Sam and the strength of their beautiful friendship. The magical-realism elements blend beautifully with the captivating writing and while reading you can feel the magic with each page. This is a very character-driven story and one that is truly unforgettable! Highly recommend!

The Forbidden Wish3.The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

This is a book that I feel more people need to read, especially if you’re a fan of retellings! If you’ve enjoyed reading The Wrath And The Dawn, this book would be perfect for you! Khoury delivers a retelling of Aladdin w/ Zahara a jinni, who wants to be free from her lamp and a deal with the King of the Jinn may be her only way to freedom. Through her writing and wonderfully developed characters it delivers a spark that really makes this retelling her own. There is so much girl power + the romance is written beautifully!

kingdom-of-ash-and-briars-24hryabookblog4.Kingdom Of Ash And Briars by Hannah West

In this standalone YA Fantasy, West weaves together classic fairy tales. In this novel, Bristol discovers she’s an elicromancer and must use her magic to unite the three kingdoms before an evil force takes over!

The writing pulls you in from the start and West’s fantasy world of Nissera comes to life on the page! If you are looking for a unique YA Fantasy that will keep you turning the page, I highly recommend Kingdom Of Ash And Briars!

the-queen-of-blood-review5.The Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Its books like this that remind me why I love to read YA Fantasy!💕 Durst creates a fantasy world heavily based around spirits and nature and through her writing it comes to life on the page! The characters and world are so memorable and unlike any YA Fantasy I’ve read before.

The story centers around Daleina and her journey (along with other women just like her) to becoming a queen in the magical world of Aratay. And then there’s Ven, a disgraced Champion who finds himself teaming up with Dalenia when they both realize the spirits of their world are becoming restless.

If your looking for an immersive YA Fantasy that has atmospheric writing and an engaging plot and characters, then definitely add The Queen Of Blood to your TBR!

March 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read:  6

The Crown And The Arrow1. The Crown And The Arrow by Renee Ahdieh (TWATD  #0.5)

The Crown & The Arrow Full Review

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Pages: 9

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts:  It was a quick read, but I really enjoyed reading from Khalid’s perspective! Can’t wait for The Rose & The Dagger!

97800623807532. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (TGFE #1)

The Girl From Everywhere Full Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: February 16, 2016

Pages: 464

My Rating:Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: This was a lovely debut! Not only was the concept of traveling in this book so interesting, but this novel also has such a wonderful cast of characters! I will definitely be reading the sequel.

The Forbidden Wish3.The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pages: 352

My Rating:Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: This retelling of Aladdin was so unique! Every element of this story from characters to world building made this book a blast to read! Highly recommend ❤

A Gathering Of Shadows4. A Gathering Of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering Of Shadows Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pages: 512

My Rating:Full StarFull StarFull StarFull Starhalf star

Overall Thoughts: A spectacular sequel! While more character-driven, AGOS still dives deeper into the world and politics weaving them together perfectly with the plot!

Thanks For The Trouble5. Thanks For The Trouble by Tommy Wallach

Thanks For The Trouble Full Review

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pages: 352

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: This contemporary has such an engaging plot, is very thought-provoking & has such a memorable cast of characters. If your looking for a new YA Contemporary to read I highly recommend this one! ❤

204432356.The Winners Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (Winners Trilogy #3)

The Winners Kiss Full Review

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: March 29, 2016

Pages: 496

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

Overall Thoughts: Writing style, characters, etc.came together perfectly to bring a spectacular end to The Winners Trilogy!

Additional Favorite Posts From This Month:

Playlists:

Blackhearts / Rebel Of The Sands / The Girl From Everywhere / Unhooked

Waiting On Wednesday #5 / #6

March 2016 Releases

What Books Did You Read This Month? 🙂

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury Review

The Forbidden Wish.jpgThe Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 23, 2016

Pages: 352

Summary: She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

My Rating: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

My Thoughts:

This book was wonderful!

While this story is based on Aladdin, with each page of this story you can see Jessica really makes this story her own!

Not only was there an exquisite and vivid writing style, but the engaging plot really keeps you turning the page.

While there is a lot that happens in this story, from Zahra’s past to the ongoing war w/ the jinni, it never feels too busy and all flows wonderfully!

With Zahra wanting to be free, she makes a deal to find Zhian, a trapped Jinni prince, who is located in the royal palace!

To do so, she convinces Aladdin to use a wish to become a prince and trick the royals!

From there the plot becomes even more complex!

As the plot progressed you see Zahra, who is a very powerful jinni also go through many moments of vulnerability and learn more about herself as she fights for her freedom!

Another aspect of this book I absolutely loved was the relationship that developed between Aladdin+Zahra, from each interaction to the lines of banter.

From the plot it is obvious a relationship will be apparent, but it really grows and develops on its own as the story progresses.

With Zahra fighting for freedom and Aladdin fighting to avenge his parents, you see the complexities to their character with each and every page!

There is also so much girl-power in this book which I loved ❤ ❤

There’s the fierce princess Caspida and her tough crew at her side!

They all work together/support each other as does Zahra when the plot progresses & that made this book even more engaging!!

Captivating and exquisitely written, The Forbidden Wish is a story that really takes you to a whole new world!

If you are a fan of YA Fantasy or Retellings I highly recommend this book!