Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle Of Spirits by Anna Meriano Review

Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle Of Spirits by Anna Meriano (LSM #2)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Pages: 309

Available Through The Book Depository: A Sprinkle Of Spirits

Cover Artist / Illustrator: Mirelle Ortega

Summary: Leonora Logroño has finally been introduced to her family’s bakery bruja magic—but that doesn’t mean everything is all sugar and spice. Her special power hasn’t shown up yet, her family still won’t let her perform her own spells, and they now act rude every time Caroline comes by to help Leo with her magic training.

She knows that the family magic should be kept secret, but Caroline is her best friend, and she’s been feeling lonely ever since her mom passed away. Why should Leo have to choose between being a good bruja and a good friend?

In the midst of her confusion, Leo wakes up one morning to a startling sight: her dead grandmother, standing in her room, looking as alive as she ever was. Both Leo and her abuela realize this might mean trouble—especially once they discover that Abuela isn’t the only person in town who has been pulled back to life from the other side.

Spirits are popping up all over town, causing all sorts of trouble! Is this Leo’s fault? And can she reverse the spell before it’s too late?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A Sprinkle Of Spirits is the magical, utterly charming sequel in the Love Sugar Magic Series! When spirits begin showing up around town, Leo, her family, and friends work together to solve the mystery. Filled with sweetness, adventure, and inspiring messages, this is a heartfelt sequel!

It’s a new year and Leo’s been training more with her family now that the Logroño legacy of bruja magic is no longer kept secret. However, amidst her best friend Caroline’s return from Costa Rica, she’s now finding herself pulled in so many different directions. From her training, family’s expectations, experimenting with magic, and all while feeling like her sisters don’t trust her enough in her bruja skills, Leo is also given these rules about the importance magic and family. This leaves Leo struggling to choose between her family and friends, but also fulfilling her expectations as a bruja.

But at the end of the day, she doesn’t wanna have to pick between family and friends. However, another added pressure arrives when her abuela returns as a spirit and Leo thinks she’s the cause! Luckily with the help of family and friends, she gathers more clues leading her to learn more about the other spirits that crossed over and the consequences if they don’t find their way back!

It was so wonderful being able to return to the Amor y Azucar Panaderia in this sequel! I adore this magical world of Meriano’s series and I couldn’t wait to join Leo on another adventure. You can sense this stress and uncertainty Leo faces in having to make choices, but also with the help of her abuela she learns some solutions in balancing all these different parts of bruja life. Over the course of the story, Leo also further strengthens the dynamic with her sisters, who can be quite secretive and convinced that separating family from friends is what’s best for their magic.

At its core, this series is about family, friendship, and the magic of those relationships. Despite getting caught up in another magical mishap, Leo never falters to get help from those around her when it’s necessary. With Caroline also having lost her mother, this story is also about processing grief and healing as both Leo and Caroline are mending their friendship.

Leo is joined by her older sister Isabel and her Tia Paloma in their quest to not only find all the spirits that crossed over, but also learn how exactly it happened so they can be sent home.

I could literally sense all that pressure of all these different sides of Leo’s life as she’s trying to help the spirits, but despite that there’s this unwavering hope that everything will work out in the end.

The magic system is developed even more throughout this novel as we’re introduced to a new baking spell, Leo’s own magic, the magic of spirits, and all those different layers separating our world from the spirit world. As with the first novel, A Dash Of Trouble, I love how it emphasized the idea of opposites in creating a portal to send the spirits home, sort of like solving a puzzle. There’s also a focus on emotion and how they play a huge part in accessing magic.

Learning about El Otro Lado in relation to our world was developed in such an interesting way. This gave Leo the opportunity to ask questions, talk with her abuela, and learn more about what’s keeping the spirits wandering around Rose Hill. There’s also lots of traveling which makes for a fun adventure and along the way, Leo is learning more about finding that balance in her life.

Messages woven throughout this sequel are such a vital part of the narrative and were developed beautifully with each chapter: The importance of prioritizing all the different relationships in life and finding that balance, relying on those around to help when you need it, learning to accept & let go even when it’s difficult, and much more!

Something that I completely forgot was just how funny this series is? There’s lot lots of humor sprinkled among the cast and that just makes this equal parts magical and humorous. Many moments either from Leo or the other characters just left me smiling. I’m looking forward to wrapping up the series with A Mixture Of Mischief very soon.

A Sprinkle Of Spirits brings readers back to the magic of the Logroño family and a new spooky mystery that needs solving! With friendship, family, alongside humor and deep, meaningful messages of this novel make this such a great sequel!

My fellow book blogger shout out for today is Caro’s review for this delightful sequel! They focus on the impact of Leo’s journey throughout the story and delve into how that adds a new layer to the conversations being explored here, and overall I just love how this review was written. 🍪🕯

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!

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee Review {Graphic Novel}

Sea Sirens by Amy ChuSea Sirens by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (Artist/Illustrator) (A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure #1)

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Pages: 144

Available Through The Book Depository: Sea Sirens

Summary: Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Sea Sirens is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel with a unique art-style, a delightful story, and wonderful cast of characters! Trot finds herself in an underwater kingdom with her cat Cap’n Bill, where an ancient deep-sea battle rages on between Sirens & Serpents! Powerful themes of family and friendship, alongside adventure, are present all throughout Chu and Lee’s spectacular graphic novel! This one is a must-read!

Sea Sirens follows Trot, whose a dedicated surfer girl living in Huntington Beach, Cali. & her one-eyed cat Cap’n Bill who she rescued as a stray on the beach! They both get taken to an underwater kingdom of Sirens & Serpents when powerful wave pushes them underwater!

READ THIS GRAPHIC NOVEL–ITS FANTASTIC!! 💖 I was looking forward to this one for months because the beautiful cover immediately had me add it to my TBR and the story inside is just as beautiful!

Trot is a surfer girl at heart and the story starts with her spending the day at the beach surfing and her grandfather enjoying fishing! But, her grandfather goes missing (due to his dementia) and she’s heartbroken! Luckily he’s found, but her workaholic mother tells her she can’t go out to the beach without her, to ensure her grandfather’s safety!

However, Trot doesn’t let that stop her from surfing, so she finds a way to sneak out. She and Cap’n Bill catch a bad wave and get thrust to the bottom of the ocean where Sirens and Serpents are in battle! Luckily, Cap’n Bill is ready to chase the serpents away! The Siren princess, Clia invites them to stay in her kingdom– now Trot & Cap’n Bill are celebrated for their bravery (but mainly Cap’n Bill 😂)!

The story continues with Trot & Cap’n Bill exploring the kingdom, being celebrated with a feast, and learning more about the battle between Sirens & Serpents, alongside the history of the Queendom of the Sirens (I loved the scene introduced early on when princess Clia shows her a mural of their history commissioned by her great-grandmother)!

Clia, princess of the Sirens introduces Trot to her world, as does Queen Aquareine, and the 2 develop a friendship over the course of the story.

One of my favorite parts was seeing the inventions/magical objects of the Siren’s world that continuously immerse Trot into this underwater kingdom! There’s one object in particular that added so much to the story and that was a special pearl necklace that allows Cap’n Bill to talk! I loved getting to hear what he had to say and it added so much to the story!!

I don’t want to spoil things, but there’s a few plot twists that send Trot, Cap’n Bill, and Clia on a rescue mission!

Of course with the Sirens being familiar/fascinated with human world (but not exactly interacting with it so close to the surface). I really enjoyed learning more about this split between their world and ours through their fascination with the ships that sink in their territory! I also loved learning about the Sirens love of charting the ocean territories–I hope that’s explored more in upcoming releases!

The politics and world-building of the underwater kingdom were so beautifully explored and had so much depth, yet still left a bit of mystery that I can’t wait to learn more about it in future books!

Sea Sirens draws inspiration not only from Vietnamese folklore and fairytales, but mainly L. Frank Baum’s children’s fantasy novel published in 1911 titled, The Sea Fairies!

Now onto the representation! This graphic novel mainly features Vietnamese representation! Trot herself is Vietnamese-American and her grandfather is Vietnamese! It was great to see the rep. explored through the use of language and elements of Vietnamese folklore/fairytales! The representation and culture is woven throughout the pages of this beautiful story!

The art itself is so unique! There’s the use of watercolor and vibrant line-work present throughout the whole graphic novel! I really paid attention to the artwork throughout each panel and was in awe at the stunning art that not only immersed me, but left me captivated! The design of the characters, settings, and color palette brought everything to life!

Sea Sirens ends on a wonderful note hinting at more to come and I can’t wait!!

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee is a beautiful and immersive graphic novel that’s filled with adventure when Trot gets sucked into an underwater kingdom! From the story to artwork, themes, and so much more–this is a wonderful graphic novel that you don’t want to miss!

Slice Of Life Fantasy & Book Recommendations {Book Blogger Discussion}

There’s something special about stories that explore and follow characters through their everyday lives. There’s a name for stories like this and that’s “Slice Of Life.”

While this category can apply to such a vast number of different genres, I’d personally learned about this category in my early teens as I continued watching anime and reading manga.

Goodreads describes Slice Of Life as a “…naturalistic representation of real life which has been cut out of a larger story…”

With that, I found my love for these particular kinds of stories one could best describe as Slice Of Life Fantasy!

For me, Slice Of Life Fantasy means that while a story is set in a fantasy world–has a magic system, magical creatures, or is a world that’s unlike our own–at its’ core the plot can fall into a contemporary sphere because it focuses on the characters’ typical/daily lives. It also has core elements and themes that are relatable outside of its fantasy setting! There’s still action, but from my perspective it’s used more for driving certain plot points than being an active part of the story itself!

Whether its going to school, making new friends, or being with family– there’s something special about these types of stories that I just adore!

Today I’ll share with you some books I can categorize as Slice Of Life Fantasy and I hope I can offer some wonderful new recommendations for your TBR! 💞📚

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)

Why Its Slice Of Life Fantasy: I’ve personally only seen the Ghibli movie, but from what I remember of it, the animation & scenery, presentation of Sophie’s life working in her family’s hat shop, and the friends she makes while staying in Howl’s castle present this Slice Of Life Fantasy atmosphere!

Summary: Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Girl-of-Ink-and-Stars2. The Girl Of Ink And Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Why Its Slice Of Life Fantasy: If you were to ask me the earliest book I read which delivered this idea of Slice Of Life Fantasy it would be The Girl Of Ink & Stars! Isabella, a cartographer’s daughter, lives on the island of Joya (which has magic running through it). Isa goes on a search for her missing friend Lupe alongside her friend Pablo as she learns more about her home. There’s themes of adventure, friendship, and the importance of stories through myths. The myths themselves have been passed down to Isa through her father!

Summary: Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O' Neill3.The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (Tea Dragon #1)

Why Its Slice Of Life Fantasy: This delightful and beautifully illustrated graphic novel follows Greta, daughter of a blacksmith, who learns more about Tea Dragons and caring for them through tea merchant/shop owner Hesekiel, when she becomes his apprentice! The Tea Dragon Society is set in a magical, diverse world that also emphasizes craft and preservation of the arts! Greta embarks on an enchanting adventure as she learns more about the magical Tea Dragons and makes new friends!

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. 

* If your looking for a recently released middle-grade graphic novel that may fall into the realm of Slice Of Life Fantasy too, I recommend Sea Sirens by Amy Chu:

Trot & her cat get taken to an underwater magical kingdom where there’s an ancient deep-sea battle rages on! There’s also Vietnamese-American rep. and exploration of Vietnamese Mythology!!

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama Vol. 14. Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #1)

Why Its Slice Of Life Fantasy: In this world, magic has been kept hidden but the main character Coco has been fascinated by it her entire life and wants more than anything–to become a witch! Witch Hat Atelier connects to this wonder and hope that magic lives within each of us. The relatable themes of this story are present not only through the plot, but the optimistic and joyful main character Coco. While there’s a whimsy to it, there’s a depth and complexity to the magic system alongside the captivating world that makes it feel grounded in reality. Coco finds her seemingly “un-magical” life turned upside down as she learns more about the magic she has within herself!

Summary: In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with the gift for magic. She’s resigned to her un-magical life, until a traveling magician passes through her village, and Coco learns what what everybody “knows” might not be the truth.

* If your looking for another fantastic and more contemporary example of Slice Of Life Fantasy with witches I also recommend: Flying Witch by Chihiro Ishizuka! Volume 1 of Flying Witch follows Makoto who goes to Aomori, Japan to live with her cousins as she continues her training to become a witch!

And those are my recommendations for Slice Of Life Fantasy books! I had a lot of fun creating this discussion and I hope you’ll check out these wonderful books!

Have you read any of the books I’ve recommended? 😍📚✨

Any books you know of that could be described as “Slice Of Life Fantasy”? 🍃✨📚

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby Review

York The Shadow Cipher by Laura RubyYork: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (York #1)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Release Date: May 16, 2017

Pages: 476

Available Through The Book Depository: York: The Shadow Cipher

Summary: It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

*Received book 1 of this series as part of an upcoming Blog Tour* 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Shadow Cipher is an immersive and clever middle-grade novel that melds fantasy, steampunk, & history set in an alternate modern-day New York! When they’re soon to be evicted from their apartment, the famous Moringstarr tower, Tess Biedermann, Theo Biederman & Jamie Cruz try solve the famous Old York Cipher to save their home before its too late! Ruby’s novel is a captivating tale filled with mystery, adventure, and clever puzzles!

York: The Shadow Cipher is a book that had been on my TBR for years–I’d actually started it a couple years back, but sadly hadn’t gotten around to finishing it. But, now that I’m going to be reviewing the sequel for an upcoming blog tour, I’m so glad I was given another chance to return to it!

If you didn’t know, Laura Ruby also wrote a wonderful YA magical realism book back in I think 2015 (?) called Bone Gap (which was one of my favorite books back in 2015–I highly recommend it!!). As I read York: The Shadow Cipher, I realized something about Ruby’s books:

Her tales deliver such unique reading experiences for me personally, that I can only get from the first read-through! The atmosphere, characters, and immersive quality of her stories/writing is what draws me in with each page and allows me to connect with the plot and her unique cast of characters!

Twins Tess & Theo get tangled up in a centuries-old cipher so with the help of their classmate/neighbor Jamie, they attempt to solve the riddles and save their home! The clues lead them back to uncovering the answers to the impossible cipher hidden within their apartment–The Morningstarr Tower and the city of New York.

What really kept me surprised was the ciphers/puzzles throughout the book. There’s riddles that lead the crew to different places across New York, but are also focused on history. I never really knew where the journey was headed next, but that kept me reading because I just loved being surprised at where the next piece in this puzzle was coming from.

The Shadow Cipher is told through various POVs (3 mainly), but they all had distinct voices and the writing flowed well all throughout the book! The writing-style was descriptive, unique, but also incredibly fun to read.

Although there’s an overarching story here, I loved that there were many underlying themes that journeyed across the novel as well. From family, friendship, & having a place of belonging to name a few, were just some of the wonderful themes explored in this book!

I loved that each of these were tackled through different characters from Theo, Jamie, to Tess.

I found tat the adventurous atmosphere of the story really allowed me to picture everything from the setting to the inventions, and plot itself so vividly and overall, it really came to life on the page–it was incredibly cinematic!

The characters are all so well developed and though there are some who we never really meet or pass in & out of the story, I found that they all felt incredibly real and I could picture them throughout the book.

Its hard to say which character was my favorite, because I enjoyed them all in different ways, but I have to say Jamie Cruz was one of my favorites! I loved how his adoration of comics and superheroes really added another layer of depth to his story and how he viewed the world! His POVs were definitely my favorites! He was almost always looking towards the positives and was just a really uplifting character to read from–he also had a hobby of sketching/drawing which he used to draw out certain locations or parts of the cipher along the way, which was fun to read about.

The Shadow Cipher is also an incredibly character-driven story! Tess, Theo & Jamie all have their own personal journeys and its great they each had their own time away from the main story at points, just so us as readers could get to know them more as characters! overall just really felt developed as characters and I found they really grew little by little over the course of the book.

The alternate New York was fun to explore also because of the unique inventions! I loved how Ruby really built these unique inventions from the Mornigstarrs into the cipher/puzzles in ways I wasn’t really expecting, but found fun all the same. There’s just so much creativity to this world that although its based on a real place, there was just that spark that made New York feel like a completely different world.

The plot was just really unexpected and overall I enjoyed being invested in the Cipher just as much as Theo, Tess & Jamie! There were some plot twists and secrets that I didn’t see coming, but overall the story left me curious as to where the plot is headed in the sequel.

I did rate it 4 stars because although this book was such a fun read, I did feel the pacing was a bit slow at points and the pacing seemed to vary throughout the story as well. The ending itself also just also left me feeling like I needed a little something more. Overall though, I loved the main cast, the humor, and thought-provoking ciphers and I can’t wait to see what happens as the series continues!

York: The Shadow Cipher is the first book in what sets up to be a great middle-grade series with clues, puzzles, and mysteries to solve that weave together in a unique way! The great cast of characters, clever puzzles, and fascinating world are all explored through such an immersive and dynamic atmosphere! The ending will leave you interested in seeing whats next for Tess, Theo, & Jamie in the sequel!

Bookish Buzz: Upcoming Books That Need More Hype!

Bookish Buzz is the working title for my newest blog feature and I’m beyond excited to share it with you all!

Hey, 24hr.YABookBlog here (~˘▾˘)~ 💞📚✨ Bookish Buzz was originally going to premiere on my blog as monthly releases feature, but since I hadn’t kept up with it last month, I’m trying out something a little different for this first post! But I do hope to share my original idea in the near future!

To start Bookish Buzz, I’m sharing a list of some of my most anticipated/upcoming YA Books, including a manga & middle grade novel that I feel need more buzz! 🎉📚

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama Vol. 11.Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 1 by Kamome Shirahama

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Witch Hat Atelier is a manga I’ve been looking forward to for months–I first heard about it at a convention and immediately added it to my TBR! It takes place in a world where magic is a part of the everyday! However, it’s known that those with magic in this world are born, not made! Coco is a girl who was born without magic, but aspires to become a witch. One day, when a magician travels through her village, she realizes that the magic everyone knows of in her world, is not as it seems.

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala2.The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (The Tiger At Midnight Trilogy #1)

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: April 23, 2019

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

The Tiger At Midnight is a YA Fantasy debut set in a fantasy land inspired by ancient India! The story follows Esha an assassin who goes by the name of Viper and Kunal a soldier who longs to see more to the world! Both the rebel and soldier cross paths and make difficult choices for the future of their world as it grows more volatile around them with each day. What drew me into this book was the characters, I’m all here for character-driven YA Fantasy & I can’t wait to learn more about where Esha & Kunal’s journey is headed! (ARC Review To Come)

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki3.Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’ Connell

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Publisher: First Second Books (Fierce Reads)

This graphic novel follows Frederica Riley who is reeling from a break-up with the most popular girl in school, Laura Dean. Her best friend Doodle, introduces her to a medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. As Laura Dean continues to come back & their relationship becomes more complicated, Freddie questions if Laura is the one she really needs to break up with. I’ll admit I first heard about this graphic novel when the cover was revealed, but as soon as I read the summary I was super interested in checking it out, Laura Dean sounds like it’ll explore the complexity to love/loss & it also features a queer relationship!

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg4.The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: May 28, 2019

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

Fantasy theme park– that’s what drew me to this book right away! Set in the immersive fantastical theme park, The Kingdom, we follow Ana who is engineered to make visitor’s dreams come true! She finds herself falling in love with employee Owen, but when she’s accused of murdering him one night, she’s now a part of a trial where she recounts her story. The Kingdom is told through testimonies, interviews, and Ana’s own memories of him. I’m so excited to read this because the unique sci-fi, thriller/fantasy concept sounds right up my alley!

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash5. Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Mariam Vakilian, NYU Freshman, hasn’t dated in months since her high school boyfriend Caleb broke up with her. But, when she remembers about an almost-expired coupon for a virtual reality dating service, she decides to give it a try! However, things get a bit complicated when her matches include her ex-boyfriend and new best friend Jeremy! I’m beyond excited to read this book–I mean its a college-set YA Contemporary/Rom-Com, with a past ex, & VR! I’m always looking for college-set YA Contemporary and the story sounds so good!

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu6. Sea Sirens by Amy Chu and illustrations by Janet K. Lee

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

The summary and beautiful cover drew me into this upcoming middle grade/graphic novel! Trot is a surfer and alongside her one-eyed cat Cap’n Bill, they catch a big wave and get sucked into an underwater kingdom! But a sea battle rages in these waters. Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King & Trot & Cap’n are caught in the middle of it!

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu7.The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Simon Pulse

This is an upcoming YA Contemporary psychological thriller from debut author Sarah Lyu! I don’t read many thrillers, but after reading the summary I was hooked! It follows Remy Tsai whose boyfriend Remy is now dead and it was all due to her best friend, Elise. As an investigation is underway, she tries to piece together what happened and find the truth. I’m also always looking forward to reading & supporting YA debuts!

Truly Madly Royally y Debbie Rigaud8. Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: July 30, 2019

Publisher: Point Paperbacks

Zora Emerson is independent, smart, and ready to change the world! She’s prepped to attend a prestigious summer program, but what she wasn’t expecting was to connect with Owen– a prince! Now she’s being invited as a Owen’s guest to his older brother’s wedding and isn’t sure she’s ready for the spotlight! This book sounds so cute & I don’t think I’ve read a royalty romance before–so I’m super excited to read this one! 💞👑

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite9.Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Alaine Beauparlant, high-school journalist, gets suspended for a prank gone-wrong. Spending her time in Haiti at her family’s estate, she’s reconnecting with her mother, working at her aunt’s start-up to help local children in need, and connecting with fellow intern Jason. But when she finds letters, articles, & emails from her mother, she learns it’ll not only save her project, but also help her to better understand her estranged mother! This novel is not only set in Haiti, but also told through letters, emails, etc. and I’m SO hyped to get to this, I was recently sent an ARC and can’t wait to read this book it sounds fantastic!

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen10.The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Publisher: Tor Teen

If your new to my blog, then you probably haven’t seen me rave about the audio drama podcasts I review/recommend! The Infinite Noise is actually based on The Bright Sessions sci-fi podcast by creator Lauren Shippen. The podcast follows those with superpowers, or Atypicals who get therapy from Dr. Bright! The cast of characters, plot, and discussion of mental health are just some of the many things that make The Bright Sessions a fantastic story! If you haven’t listened to this podcast, do it!! Its fantastic & I’m so happy to see it getting attention in the book/YA Community. This book specifically follows one of the main characters Adam from the podcast and delves more into his backstory. So as a big fan of this podcast, I’m eagerly anticipating this book and HIGHLY recommend checking out the wonderful podcast!

Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell11.Songs From The Deep by Kelly Powell

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Moira Alexander searches for a killer on her island town, where sirens lurk along its shores. She plays her violin at the sea’s edge, but one day finds a dead boy along the shore, she has a feeling its not the sirens. She tries to search for the killer alongside lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, her childhood friend! Now their trying to find who ever is responsible, before its too late! When this book was first announced I knew Id have to read it! Murder-mystery, sirens, violinist & lighthouse keeper crime-solving duo?? Sign me up! This story sounds like a really unique YA mystery and I’m really looking forward to checking this book out!

These are all the upcoming books I’m so hyped to read & I can’t contain my excitement for them! 😍❤📚🎉🎉

Which of these books are you looking forward to? Any not on this list?? 

Lets Discuss In The Comments! 😄🎉📚

 

April 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 3

April wasn’t the best reading wise, but overall it did give me more time to come up with posts that I can’t wait to share this month!! ^_^

Legendary Ladies-50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann Shen1.Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann Shen

Owned | Started/Finished April 6 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Legendary Ladies Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Legendary Ladies is a beautifully illustrated book that chronicles the tales of goddesses from around the world! With a selection of goddesses from a variety of cultures, Shen not only shares their stories, but also a guiding sentence at the end to offer words of wisdom inspired by each heroic goddess. What I found while reading, was how goddesses tales across time and cultures seemed to weave together and connect! I just wish there were more stories, because Shen not only does an incredible job at summarizing their legends, but also accompanying them with such vibrant illustrations! This colorful and inspiring collection is a must read!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi2.Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Library | Started April 3 + Finished April 8 | Rating: ★★★★★ | Emergency Contact Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Emergency Contact was a book I knew I would go into really enjoying, but did not expect to love it as much as I did! I don’t usually read contemporary books that a very romance heavy/centered, but this one was just incredible! Choi delivers such a character-driven, raw, modern-day romance that is just so unique and moving! I found myself re-reading this book twice & annotating my own copy when I bought it late last month, because I just loved it so much! Told through dual POV, it allows you to really understand the main characters Penny & Sam, how they really escape their loneliness through one another, and seeing the development of their deep friendship & connection with each other. It was so interesting to see how their text messages with each other vs. real-life interactions differed. Overall added such a unique layer to their relationship/development. It has a deep and moving story, is romantic, and has such emotional depth! If your looking for a unique,modern-day romance, Emergency Contact is definitely a book to check out! 

Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi3.Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Pandava Quartet #1)

Library | Started April 11 + Finished April 24 | Rating:★★★★☆ |Aru Shah And The End Of Time {Mini Review}

Overall Thoughts: Chokshi delivers a heroic fantasy adventure weaved in with Hindu mythology and folklore! Aru Shah And The End Of Time also emphasized family and friendship throughout the entire story, which is so wonderfully explored (And I loved that!). The 3rd person POV really allowed for the mythology, characters, and world to get such an expansive view and great development! Sadly the plot did get a bit slow for me as I read nearing the middle and the end. However, Chokshi’s debut into middle grade is not a book to miss! She brilliantly blends fantasy w/ the modern day, delivers a dazzling writing style, and immerses you into an unforgettable fantasy adventure!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #10

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri Cover Reveal

Top 10 Tuesday: Podcasts I’ve Recently Discovered {Freebie!}

LA Times Festival Of Books Wrap-Up {2018} + Giveaway {INTL + Open until May 15th}

Plans For May:

~ Now that finals are close, I’ll be on summer break (finally!) and catch up on so many books!!

~Planning to finally post my SFF TBR! 😍💞✨⚔🚀💫📚

~Share the posts I spent time drafting last month!

Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi {Mini-Review}

Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani ChokshiAru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Pandava Quartet #1)

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents (Disney Hyperion)

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Pages: 368

Summary: Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Aru Shah And The End Of Time is a beautifully written and magical tale! Filled with adventure, weaved in with Indian Mythology and folklore, and themes of family, and friendship, Chokshi’s middle grade novel is a must read!

Roshani Chokshi is easily one of my favorite authors! I adored her Star-Touched Queen duology and when I heard about her venture to middle grade, I put Aru Shah on my TBR right away!

This novel follows Aru Shah as she spends her break in the Museum Of Indian Art And Culture, which her mother runs.

Aru has a habit of telling tall tales, so when 3 of her classmates make an unexpected visit, she finds that the only thing she can do is prove her classmates wrong by showing them the Lamp Of Bharata.

Legend has it that if the lamp is lit, Sleeper (a demon) will be awoken and bring an end to time.

Aru’s mother has told her its to never be lit, but Aru believes that having it lit just once won’t bring any harm.

Aru then finds time itself is frozen and she’s now on a quest to reverse it, with the help of a new friend and a deity transformed as a pigeon named Boo.

Chokshi’s writing is superb! She blends fantasy and modern day in such a great way! I also loved the humor she weaved all throughout the book!

The 3rd person POV allows you to get an such expansive view at the magic, mythology, characters, and brilliant world that Chokshi has forged.

The characters are all wonderfully developed, you get so much about them from such few lines.

Aru is such a brave heroine and I loved her so much!!

Hindu mythology and folklore are at the heart of this novel and the magic finds its way into each page. There’s also a huge emphasis on friendship and family which is explored so incredibly well.

I also really loved how Chokshi explored the idea of fate and destiny through the quest Aru Shah undergoes as she tries to save the world!!

Its just so great to see diverse fantasy representation in middle grade! And through the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, its awesome there’ll be more series following various cultural mythologies!!

The novel not only features Aru Shah who is Indian-American, but also her friend Mini who is 1/2 Indian and Filipino.

Aru herself, goes through so much from the fear of what lighting the lamp has done to her world, to the tests she faces to prepare herself for the awakened Sleeper.

She is a determined, comical, and delightful character. I adored her so much and loved following her journey.

The story is just filled with action, adventure, mystery, and so much more!!

I suppose my only minor issue is that at points the plot did get a bit slow for me. 

When I reached the end of Aru Shah, I was so ready to read what happens next!! I can’t wait to read what happens next on her journey in: Aru Shah And The Song Of Death!

Aru Shah And The End Of Time takes you on a heroic fantasy  adventure that keeps you turning the page! Featuring Indian mythology, themes of fate, destiny, family, and friendship, through a dazzling writing style, Chokshi’s debut into middle grade is not one to miss!

January 2018 Wrap-Up

Can’t believe the first month of 2018 is already over! Today I’ll be sharing my first Monthly Wrap-Up of 2018~ 

# Of Books Read: 9

Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage1.Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage

Owned | Read/Finished on January 1 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Anchors & Vacancies Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Now pretty much a yearly tradition for me, I try to start off the new year by reading a poetry book, for 2018 I decided to read Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage!

This book contains 45 poems centering around the journey of a love lost and how that loss can impact a person when its difficult to let go.

This quote really stuck with me throughout the entire book:

“There’s a certain kind of ache in the chambers of my heart…”

While I really understood the complex emotions + journey Savage portrayed in the collection, on a personal level (aside from a few) many didn’t really connect with me (hence the 4 stars). However, I loved her writing-style and plan to read more of her poetry in the future.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes2. The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Library | Started December 23 + Finished on January 4 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |The Arsonist Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Told through 3 unique POV’s, The Arsonist brilliantly weaves coming-of-age, historical fiction, & Mystery/Thriller all in one! This novel follows Molly Mavity + Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef who’s paths cross when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of Ava Dreyman, who was a resistance fighter during the time of the Berlin Wall. The friendship between Pepper + Molly was so beautifully written and you really see how lonely they feel, but the bond of their friendship reminds them that they aren’t alone & I loved that! There’s so much complexity + mystery that really makes this book surprising. I suppose my only issue was that compared to Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly (Which I loved), the writing for The Arsonist felt rather flat and certain aspects from side-character development to setting description, etc. fell a bit short. Aside from that, The Arsonist is a compelling story that weaves in so many differing genres/themes that I highly recommend it if your looking for a unique read!

Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire3.Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #3)

ARC | Started January 7 + Finished on January 8 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Beneath The Sugar Sky Full ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Beneath The Sugar Sky was easily my favorite book of the Wayward Children series so far! The descriptive and whimsical writing really showed McGuire’s growth as an author with this series. When Rini finds herself Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children characters, both new & returning, join Rini on her quest to the peculiar world of Confection, to bring back an old friend. Kade & Christopher are easily my favorite characters of the entire series & not only did this book remind me of that, but their banter + friendship easily made this book one of my favorites! Filled with adventure, a dynamic + diverse cast of characters, magic & mystery, Beneath The Sugar Sky is a fantastic continuation to the Wayward Children Series!

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen4.A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

ARC | Started January 5 + Finished on January 13 | Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½ |A Taxonomy Of Love ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The unique format & expansive timeline, made A Taxonomy Of Love a pretty unique YA Contemporary. We follow Spencer from 13-19 as he navigates life + his friendship with his new neighbor Hope Birdsong. Allen really developed the main character Spencer, while bringing so much progression & growth to his character that you can really see by the end of the novel. Throughout the story, Spencer + Hope begin to drift apart when Hope suffers an important loss in her family. Your left wondering if they’ll ever reconnect, while also seeing where their own paths are leading them. I felt however, with the constant jumps in the timeline, characters + story points had uneven development, going from extremely fast + rushed pacing to uneventful & slow moments. That made it difficult to really connect with any of the other characters, aside from a few main ones (hence the 3.5). However, Allen did a fantastic job at weaving in so many themes + developing the atmosphere of her contemporary story over such an expansive timeline!

Love Hate And Other Filters Samira Ahmed5.Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

ARC | Started January 15 + Finished on January 19 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Love, Hate & Other Filters ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Love, Hate & Other Filters tackles such a relevant + timely issue while also balancing heart-warming moments and chilling/honest ones too! I loved Maya so much, from her passion to follow her dreams of becoming a film director to the strength and courage she builds over the course of the novel. There was one important moment I found that pretty much put the entirety of the novel into focus and that was the importance of Maya’s camera. I found it represented not only a shield for Maya, but also thinking broadly how people tend to view each other lenses (or filters!). Throughout the novel we follow Maya Aziz and her journey to not only understand who she wants to become, but seeing her inspirational journey to follow her dreams and tackle whatever life throws her way!

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad6.Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: 16-year old Nicholas Cox has the heart, but not exactly skill, for fencing. He’s worked from the basics and is eager to win the local tournament (Connecticut Regionals). The win from this competition could earn him a spot into a top school and allow him to receive a scholarship & continue with fencing if he is serious about pursuing it. His competition is none other than  Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy. This first issue introduces so much from Nicholas’s past to his passion for fencing & the mysterious fencing prodigy. There is so much great development, action and dialogue that will keep you hooked! Its a brilliant start to a new comic series! (Honestly, there’s tons more I discuss in my full reviews that I can’t fully explain in this wrap-up, but I HIGHLY recommend checking out Fence 💙✨🤺)

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad7.Fence #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #2 is very much build-up to Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic when they begin at King’s Row and introduction to new characters on the fencing team. We definitely see the stakes set for not only the team, but Nicholas too (considering we learn there are a limited # of spots for the main team + upcoming championships). Both Issue #1 & #2 introduce characters of color + trans rep. & it does hint at gay rep.! The tension really builds in this issue and similar to Issue #1, will keep you hooked!

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad8.Fence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #3 is easily my favorite issue in the series so far! There is much more character development/background + is a very plot-driven continuation! This issue very much follows Nicholas & not only his daily campus life on King’s Row, but his determination to prove himself before his first match against a classmate. The characters from Issue #2 are getting better developed as is the gay rep. The perfect pacing, development for plotting, characters, and slight twists + turns make Issue #3, such a brilliant addition to the Fence series!

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano9.Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (W/ Cover art by Mirelle Ortega)

Library | Started January 25 + Finished January 27 | Rating:★★★★★  | Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Easily one of the best middle-grade novels I have ever read! Themes of family and friendship, alongside a delightful writing that delivers a sweet and magical tale, Love Sugar Magic was a truly unforgettable read! The story follows Leo Logroño and she comes from a family of bakers, they run the Amor y Azúcar Panadería. She’s always felt left out of the family business + feels her mother + sisters are hiding something, so a day before the Día de los Muertos festival, she sneaks her way into the bakery to see what really goes on (she soon discovers she comes from a family of brujas, who use their powers within the bakery + their treats). Now that her oldest sister Isabel knows, Leo begins to use the powers within her & experiments with the special family recipe book. However as Leo begins to lie about using her abilities to the rest of her family, she soon gets into trouble & must make very important decisions. The magic system is one of my favorite aspects about this novel, it really builds and you see how unique it is for each member of Leo’s family. The plot is perfectly developed, the writing is beautiful, the characters are spectacular, & so much more!! Such a fantastic novel, I highly recommend it!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Latinx YA Book Releases To Add To Your TBR {2018}

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄✨📚

You may have noticed, I never posted one for December. Well, that was mainly because of vacation, but also because as the months passed nearing the end of 2017 when making my monthly wrap-ups, I noticed that I began to lose my enjoyment for making/posting them because I felt like I had to (being a pretty common post in the book-community). While I do enjoy them I felt it was time to change up the review format a bit to add more to make a bit more personal (adding the format of the book + when I started/finished). And I think doing that really brought back my enjoyment for them~

So similar to this one, I may be trying out this new format for the upcoming monthly wrap-ups, but again I’m really liking how this one turned out! 😄✨📚📚💻~ But, feel free to let me know what you think of the new format in the comments!

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano Review

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna MerianoLove Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (W/ Cover art by Mirelle Ortega)

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Pages: 320

Summary:Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Love Sugar Magic is a delightful and magical novel that follows Leo as she discovers the mysteries and magic within her family + their beloved bakery. There’s baking, delicious treats, themes of family, friendship & identity as Leo uncovers the magic that has been kept secret!

Love Sugar Magic was my 1st full 5-star read of 2018! Its a truly magical and unforgettable novel & easily one of the best middle-grade novels I’ve ever read! ❤

Leonora (or Leo) Logroño comes from a family of bakers. For generations, the women in her family (great-abuela, abuela, aunt, mother & now sisters) have gotten into the business of running the Amor y Azúcar Panadería.

With the bakery being the most beloved in their town of Rose Hill, Texas, Leo has dreamed of the day she will finally be able to help out, especially with the Día de los Muertos festival happening in town the next day. With her 4 older sisters: Marisol, Isabel & the twins Alma & Belén, always asked to help with the baking each year, Leo figures that’s all about to change.

She’s always felt left out of the family business with her sisters + mother always saying she isn’t old enough. However, not being able to take part in such an important family tradition leaves her feeling not only upset, sad + confused, but also suspicious as to what her family is keeping from her.

After discussing with her best friend, Caroline Cambell, on the way to school, she conjures a plan to sneak her way into the bakery to see what her family may be hiding from her.

Finally inside the bakery, she hides from her family and sees a special initiation. Unsure of what it could mean, she believes its best to go back to the source (the bakery) & find more clues.

Isabel, her oldest sister, soon discovers Leo snooping around in one of the offices & finds a special recipe book, it gets revealed that all the women in her family are brujas.

Not long after this bonding moment with Isabel, Leo decides to try out the magic for herself and that’s where the trouble begins.

Now Leo’s other sisters soon figure out about her powers, but as Leo continues to lie about her experimentation with magic, she finds herself getting into some pretty sticky situations. They lies and & trouble she gets into build, until she accepts she has important choices to make and be honest with herself + her family.

Meriano delivers such depth in this novel from the development to the characters, magic system, and themes of family, family legacy, friendship, and discovering who you are.

I found myself in love with each and every aspect of Love Sugar Magic. Being Latina myself, I connected w/ the Mexican-American Rep., traditions of Día de los Muertos, the recipes of the panaderia, and so much more! Regardless of age, there was just countless elements to this middle-grade novel that I easily connected to and it made feel at home.

The magic system was easily one of my favorite aspects of this novel. Introduced to Leo through her older sister Isabel, we learn not only the basis of how it applies to the bakery, but also just how complex it really is. Not only through the importance of being specific with spells, but how unique + different it is for each member of the family (even to how it applies specifically to Leo as the 5th sister!). The depth to this system was so brilliantly done & I loved how Meriano expanded on it from the beginning to the very end.

The theme and importance of family is such a huge part of this novel and you can sense it with each page, from the family traditions of the bakery, Leo’s dynamics with her sisters, to how Leo’s actions + decisions with her magic are done because of her family.

I adored this book so much & am so happy that other Latinx readers will be able to connect to this novel just as much as I did! I laughed, smiled, cried, and felt so connected to Leo & her journey not only to feel closer to her family,  but also to see her learn on her own and understand that when moments get to difficult, its important to remember that your family will always be their to guide you.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble is a enchanting and beautifully written middle-grade novel! Throughout the novel Mariano weaves in spells, family, and friendship. Leo’s growth and journey delivers a special kind of magic itself that readers will easily connect with. Delightful, sweet, and magical, Meriano’s novel is a must read!