Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman Review

Starfish by Akemi Dawn BowmanStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Pages: 340

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

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

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

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Literary Listens: Audio Drama Podcasts That Need Book Adaptations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 😄✨🎙📚

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones ARC Review

Shadowsong by S. Jae-JonesShadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #2)

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary:Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

*Received ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway!*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Shadowsong is darker, but continues to be as enchanting and captivating as Wintersong! Liesl undergoes a life-changing journey to find herself when the days of the Underground are long gone, but still linger close. Shadowsong is a captivating + magical tale of family, belonging, and acceptance!

I remember reading Wintersong last year and falling absolutely in love with it! Now that I’ve finally finished Shadowsong (in practically 2 sittings), I’m still emotional over the fact that this enchanting + magical duology has come to an end (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)♥♥*:✧ From Liesel’s journey to the Underground in Wintersong to her new journey in Shadowsong, I loved each and every moment of this amazing duology & am sad it’s over~♥♥

*S. Jae-Jones author note in the beginning, is a must read! Its just honest, powerful and explains the complexities of this novel as it will touch on mental health, self-harm, addiction, and especially explores bipolar disorder (which Liesl has + as does the author)*

Its been 6 months since Liesl left the Underground + the Goblin King behind and we see now how she feels more lost than ever. Above all, its clearly seen and explored how that journey changed her.

Shadowsong starts off with letters that Liesl is writing to her brother Josef and the lyrical writing just pulls you in immediately. She longs to be reunited with her brother and to ensure his safety.

Liesl has slowly found that her passion and connection with music is slowly fraying now that she has come back from the Underground and left the Goblin King.

Darker than Wintersong in different ways, we see how escaping Goblin Grove and the Goblin King changed her and how she sees the world.

I loved how focused this novel was on Liesl and her character. Reading from her intricately constructed POV, its clear she is driven by the love for her family, to better understand who she is and who she wants to become.

I sympathized with her so much, understanding how lost she felt and that sense of uncertainty for where she was headed in life. Knowing the truth behind Josef being a Changeling impacted her in so many ways, from how she viewed her world now that she returned from the Underground to how that drove her to take a long journey to be by her brother’s side. I felt so much for her throughout this novel~

However the very fate of the world could be in danger when the Wild Hunt threatens to break through the thin veil between the mortal and magical world of the Underground.

Through the elegantly constructed POV’s we see how Liesl + Josef’s relationship has changed, but how their deep connection for music still keeps them tethered to each other.

Shadowsong not only explores the deep connection we share with others, but also how those connections forge us in so many ways and how we view ourselves.

We also see more into how the Underground impacts not just Liesl but countless others who’s ancestors had some sort of connection to it (through art, music, etc.). This also introduces new characters, the Prochàzkas who join Liesl on her journey to avoid the Wild Hunt. They were very unique + interesting characters and through them you see how the magic is much more complex and goes beyond than just the Goblin Grove & Liesl in Wintersong!

I also loved that the theme of family and bonds is such a prevalent element of this novel. Its shown not only through the strength of the bond between Josef & Francois, the sisterly bond between Liesl + Käthe (which is explored much more deeply nearing the end!), but also the distant +complex bond between Liesl & Josef.

Liesl and Josef’s dynamic was heavily explored in this novel and it left my heart both full & broken. We see how distant Josef has become and how that begins to impact how they relate to the world. Yet, the bond that still gives them something to hold onto as they both possibly begin to lose their tethers to reality.

S. Jae-Jones writing in this novel is just as captivating & enchanting as in Wintersong! The way she elegantly constructs Liesl’s descriptions or immersive thoughts just leaves you understanding so much about her world and the characters from just a few sentences.

There’s a few POV’s throughout Shadowsong and each and every one I felt, was so important to the story and really helped to build the intricate plot till the very end! There’s a mysterious POV from the past, Liesl’s POV, and Josef’s POV. Each was written so beautifully that I found myself re-reading passages + lines over and over because of how beautifully S. Jae-Jones weaved the words together.

Additionally, the symbolism in this novel is just brilliantly executed which reveals so much yet keeps the perfect hint of mystery about the magical and dark worlds explored both in Wintersong & Shadowsong!

My only minor issue is that I did want a bit more page-time from the Goblin King~😭♥ (Despite the minor issues, overall for me the Wintersong duology is absolutely a 5-star series ❤ <3)

Shadowsong is a dark, but powerful conclusion to the Wintersong duology! Through beautifully constructed and elegant writing, Shadowsong explores themes of family, self-acceptance, and the bonds that make us who we are! This impactful and captivating finale will leave you hooked till the very last page!

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen ARC Review

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael AllenA Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: January 9, 2017

Pages: 336

Summary:The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . .something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

*Received an ARC from Barnes & Noble B-Fest*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Taxonomy Of Love is a plot-driven + complex YA Contemporary that brings such depth to its main characters and weaves in numerous themes of grief, loss, friendship, love and family. The unique format + expansive timeline that unravels, really make Allen’s A Taxonomy Of Love stand out!

What really stayed with me after I finished A Taxonomy Of Love was the writing and how it allowed me to really connect to the main character, Spencer Barton.

Not only was it refreshing to read a YA Contemporary from a male POV, but I’d also never read about a main character with Tourettes before.

A Taxonomy Of Love follows Spencer at 13 up until 19 yrs old as we follow his life and unforgettable friendship with his new neighbor Hope Birdsong.

From their friendship as 13-year olds in middle school, journey through high school, etc. I loved being able to follow these characters through the ups and downs of their life across a wide timeline.

A Taxonomy Of Love really stood out to me because of how its told. Not only through the engaging 1st person POV, but also through the 6-year timeline. For a standalone, I feel that can’t be easy, but Allen executed it in such a way, where it all flowed well and you really see the progression and growth of the main character Spencer.

There are also illustrations of Taxonomies that allow Spencer to make sense of new situations + the world, but also the in-between chapters with letters and messages from Hope. These additions really added more to the story and allowed me to learn a different side to these characters.

The story starts when Spencer meets Hope at 13 when she moves in next door and become friends almost instantly. However misunderstandings arise when its clear they both have feelings for one another but can’t seem to find their way to each other.

Then tragedy strikes Hope and her family when her older sister Janie passes away. We see how they slowly begin to grow apart. Spencer + Hope find their friendship slowly fading away as the years go by. Misunderstandings and misfortune keep them unsure if they’ll ever really reconnect with each other.

Now as to why I rated this book 3.5 stars, my biggest issue was that the time-jumps. It never felt like I got to fully know these characters (aside from Spencer) or feel extremely connected to the story itself because it felt plot points and development would be rushed through. I also felt it dragged particularly through uneventful or average everyday events if that makes sense?

Even when important themes of love, loss and social issues (such as racism) are discussed, the abruptness of the chapters + various time-jumps made it really difficult for me to really feel connected to these important story elements.

As for the diversity represented in this novel, as I mentioned before we have the main character Spencer Barton who has Tourettes + Jayla, Spencer’s girlfriend, who is black. There is also light discussion of mental health, when the passing of Hope’s sister is mentioned and she talks about going to a support group + when Spencer begins medication that helps with his Tourettes. (Though I can’t personally say whether Tourettes was accurately represented, overall it was great to see that represented in YA! + Ablesit language was challenged~)

Not only did I read how Spencer’s Tourettes influenced his life and impacted his confidence (as he mentioned people bullied him when he was younger), but also that friends, such as Hope would give him the patience and support he needed. Throughout the novel its clear that Spencer has friends, family, and people in his life who will support + understand him.

Overall it was also great to see him gain so much confidence in himself and learn to navigate and better understand the complex friendships + relationships in his life, throughout those 6 years. He grew so much as a character and I found myself rooting for him & Hope!

An aspect of this novel that I really loved was the various messages Allen weaved into the story. There’s grief, family, independence and friendship that are such important themes throughout the story as we follow Spencer and Hope’s story. Not only were they portrayed pretty well, but they really stuck with me as I progressed through the story.

There was also illustrations of taxonomies that just add more to the story itself and letters from Hope that really allow her to come to life.

A Taxonomy Of Love is a complex YA Contemporary that spans across a rather big timeline as we follow Spencer + Hope and their complicated, but powerful relationship. Important themes of love, loss, and growth weave their way into the story. Allen’s writing really brings such depth to the main character of Spencer and brings his story to life!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

under-rose-tainted-skies-by-louise-gornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Publisher: Clarion Books

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.

But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.

Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Under Rose Tainted Skies is a captivating YA Contemporary which is honest, raw, heart-breaking at times and tells the story of Norah as she uncovers the bravery within herself she never believed she would have!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies was a book I was super excited to read! Though with so many releases + my library copy coming late, I read it a little later than I wanted too, but I’m so happy I finally did because it was wonderful! 

Reading from Norah’s POV was so much more than just following her through her daily life, it was traversing with her through her ups & downs and growth as she overcame fears + obstacles and forged a relationship she never thought possible.

What I loved the most about reading her POV was that through her eyes I saw+pictured the characters in a very unique way, much more than just beyond their physical descriptions I saw their own struggles +obstacles as well and overall this made them feel so real! Gornall did a fantastic job at bringing all the characters to life. Norah was very witty + funny and I loved that about her!

While I do have a good amount of knowledge on OCD + Agoraphobia, just reading from Norah’s POV as whole gave me more insight into the mental process one goes through and it felt so real I could picture her thought process all through out the novel! She was my favorite character because no matter what happened, she always pushed through and found her strength!

Additionally, there were moments I really could relate to her, especially with her anxiety, like overthinking situations and jumping to conclusions when nervous. It’s something that I’ve done for sure. And reading from her perspective, I felt Gornall portrayed SO accurately!! Norah even mentioned its very easy to see why those conclusions obviously wouldn’t make sense, but thinking them anyways with the overall nervousness she would feel was something that I could definitely relate to!

She hasn’t left her house in years and we see how she has adjusted to this life, but its clear she wants what is beyond her front door.

It was great seeing the inclusion of her therapist Dr. Reeves and how she offered advice to never be afraid to speak/talk to someone and overall help Norah in navigating her new relationship with Luke, the adorable new neighbor.

I adored Luke (who is 10% human + 90% charisma ❤ )!! Through Norah’s POV, we see that even though she has OCD+Agoraphobia, he accepts her for who she is and gives her distance when necessary + is so understanding. He was so supportive with her and overall I loved how their relationship developed.

One day when she is trying to get her groceries from the front porch, he decides to help her and sooner or later, he begins sending her letters! ❤

After much hesitation, she finally tells him about her agoraphobia + ocd and he is very accepting of Norah and doesn’t push her. Instead, he always makes time to go to her house to hang out with her. He’s compassionate and very supportive. While Norah thinks she isn’t good enough for him and her fears of no longer being his friend constantly come into mind, he ensures her that he cares for her and is grateful for their friendship. ❤

I loved the mother/daughter relationship, through out the novel, whenever Norah found herself nervous or unsure about something, she knew she could always talk to her mom! Amazing family dynamic!!

My only issue is that I felt the story was a little rushed when it neared the end.

Overall Gornall delivers an emotional, raw, but honest story as we read from Norah’s perspective and follow her journey to find the inner strength/bravery she’s always had.

This novel left me feeling hopeful! I highly recommend this novel if your looking for a deeply moving YA Contemporary or are looking for a great mental health #ownvoices!!

Under Rose Tainted Skies is both gripping and heart-felt. With an emphasis on friendship+family and personal growth, this novel will captivate you!

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~

Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchezBecause Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

Summary: Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

*Note this novel does contain physical/emotional abuse*-Be aware if those are triggers for you.*

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Because Of The Sun follows Dani as she grieves the loss of her mother. Told through a unique prose, this novel discusses death, family and love.

This was a unique contemporary I won’t forget!

What made this novel truly stand out was the atmospheric writing-style! Written in an almost “stream of consciousness” we follow Dani Falls, who has lost her mother due to a violent accident and must now leave her home in Florida behind to live with her aunt Shelly in New Mexico.

After spending weeks at her aunt’s house, she rarely leaves and manages to speak only a few words at a time. We begin to wonder if Dani will ever recover and find the strength to accept.

Blurring the line between reality and dream, a bear is mentioned when Ruby passes away and throughout the novel and just like Dani, we are left to question whether it was ever truly there to begin with.

Through out the story, she struggles with the fact that she had a very difficult relationship with her mother and wonders if she ever even truly loved her. When truths about Ruby Falls comes to light, Dani questions whether she even knew her mother at all.

The characters were all very well written and I could truly picture them and understand them fully through Dani’s eyes!

She comes to know Paulo and the two bond over movies! Dani gets to know Paulo and while the do start a relationship Sanchez never makes it a central part of the novel and truly focuses on Dani’s personal growth as she grieves and comes to terms with whats happened. I adored the dynamic between the two of them and no matter what, Paulo respected when Dani wanted to help herself and always gave her the space she needed!

I do wish Paulo was included more, because he was a very loving and supportive friend/boyfriend to Dani. However I loved that Sanchez really left the romance in the background!

There is also a big emphasis on family. With the loss of her mother, Dani comes to know her aunt Shelly and understands she isn’t alone and that she can confide in her through her struggles. She also finds comfort with Paulo and his grandmother as well. They provide her with the emotional support and love she never had.

In terms of plot, it mainly focuses around Dani and her new life when she moves to New Mexico and comes to terms with her mother’s death. What I also really loved about the plot was how this novel truly centered around Dani and her personal growth.

After completing the novel it was clear that Dani still had a long way to go to recover and was doing it slowly but surely, however Sanchez did a fantastic job to show that her recovery wasn’t going to be an easy transition and would take time. She was still accepting the truths she learned about her mother, but with her new family and friends it was clear she would be okay.

I will admit I did take off a star, because while the inclusion of Shelly’s POV added much more to the story and really gave more background to Dani’s mother Ruby and why she was very detached, it did slow down the story for me. However, I really got to know more about Shelly and that was great because through Dani’s POV, I felt there was still a lot to learn about her.

Additionally after the section centering around Shelly + Ruby’s past, I felt that the ending felt a little rushed and wanted more page-time/interactions with Dani & the side-characters who now really supported and helped her when she needed it most.

Through a dream-like writing style we follow Dani as she adjusts to a new home and grows to find the strength to accept her mother’s death and all the complexities that come with it!