May 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 7

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan1. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amnia’s Voice Full Review

Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Pages: 208

My Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: This book was incredible from the writing, to plot & characters! Khan weaves in so many themes such as family, friendship, and identity! Following Amina’s journey through middle school, she begins to question as people and things around her begin to change. This novel has so many different and complex layers, that anyone can find an aspect of Amina’s Voice to relate to! Highly recommend this gem of a novel!

Another Castle Grimoire2.Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler + Paulina Ganucheau

Another Castle: Grimoire Full Review

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Pages: 152

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Another Castle: Grimoire is a graphic novel that puts clever twists+spins on classic fairy tale tropes! Following Princess Misty, she sets forth to Grimoire to defeat Badlug and keep her kingdom safe. While the story is a little slow paced, its filled with action and adventure! The art is bright and colorful too! There’s a big emphasis on friendship and its filled with empowering female characters!

Shadow Run  Cover Reveal3.Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland + Michael Miller (Kaitan Chronicles #1)

Shadow Run Full Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Pages: 400

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Filled with action + adventure and a diverse cast of characters, you’ll be immersed in Shadow Run as you follow Captain Qole and Prince Nev and as they learn more about “Shadow” and how it impacts their world. I adored the characters so much! While I definitely wanted a little faster pacing + more world-building/development, this book is one I recommend if you’re looking to get into Sci-Fi! It’s very character driven and above all, a fun story! Can’t wait for Book 2!

Teenage model in hear shaped glasses laughing4.I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

I Believe In A Thing Called Love Full ARC Review

Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date:May 30, 2017

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: A delightful YA Contemporary with the perfect blend of humor, romance, and has themes of family and friendship weaved throughout. Told through 1st person POV, you follow Desi Lee as she creates a plan with the help of K-Dramas to help her find love. 

Flying Witch Volume 1 by Chihiro Ishizuka5.Flying Witch Volume 1 by Chihiro Ishizuka {Flying Witch #1}

Flying Witch Volume 1 Full Review

Publisher: Vertical Comics

Release Date: March 8, 2017

Pages: 160

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A slow paced manga that follows Makato as she continues her training to become a witch. The story is very character driven and the story while it has its quiet magical elements, follows a “slice of life” approach. I did want more plot-wise, but above all this is a lovely manga! Highly recommend!

when-dimple-met-rishi-cover-reveal6.When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi Full ARC Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Pages: 380

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Balancing humor with more serious and heartfelt moments, When Dimple Met Rishi is a perfect summer contemporary! Its very character driven, and the magic & spirit of first love is captured through 3rd person POV as you follow Dimple and Rishi who have been set up in an arranged marriage. They have differing views of life and love, but throughout the story their relationship slowly develops and they learn more about themselves and each other along the way!

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren7.The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

The Last Thing You Said Full Review

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Ben and Lucy have lost Trixie (a dear sister + friend). Told through dual POV, you follow them as almost a year has passed since Trixie’s death and the complex emotions that’s still with them and how they are coping. Biren does a fantastic job with developing the emotional complexity of her characters and its present all throughout the story. Slow pacing and difficult character decisions made this novel a little disappointing. However, with strong elements in terms of character and development, this novel is very unique in its discussion of grief. 

Additional Posts From This Month:

May 2017 Book Releases I’m Looking Forward To

Literary Listens: Publishers & Podcasts

The Becoming Of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin Cover Reveal

Literary Listens: Publishers And Podcasts

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerLiterary Listens is my newest blog series/feature where I discuss podcasts & books!

My most recent post was “YA Books That Need Podcast Adaptations,” which you can check out Here!

This weeks post is all about publishers and podcasts!

As of May 1, Tor Books announced it would be launching ” ‘Tor Labs,’ a new serialized fiction podcast imprint.

Their first project is set to be “Steal The Stars” written by Mac Rogers, the award-winning writer of podcast thrillers The Message and LifeAfter, which will have weekly episodes starting August 2-November 1. This “Noir Science Fiction Thriller” plot is set to center around the “story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO.

According to Senior Editor Marco Palmieri, from The Verge “no US book publisher, as far as we knew, was doing audio dramas — plays written to be performed by voice actors.

With podcasts gaining such popularity right now, this got me wondering, “Would YA/Young Adult and Teen publishers consider getting into podcasts?

If they did, how could it work?

After some thought here are some ideas I considered that could link a print book with audio:

~Author interviews

~First chapters/excerpts or bonus content converted to an audio drama format

~Behind The Scenes

~Similar to Tor Labs, perhaps teaming up with established audio drama podcast creators to deliver an original serialized podcast

Considering podcasts are free to find/download through iTunes, it could also be just a fun way for readers to hear more from their favorite authors or books!

Aside from the traditional book this is an interesting venture to deliver/experience stories!

Storytelling can come in a number forms whether its books, podcasts, etc. and considering the dynamic, groundbreaking, and immersive power of podcasts and audio dramas, I can definitely see this as a new way for publishers to connect with readers in a different way!

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you think more publishers will/should consider podcasts as a way to deliver stories?

Let’s discuss in the comments below! 🙂

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations For Writers

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerLiterary Listens is my newest blog series/feature where I discuss podcasts & books!

You can also check out my first post recommending podcasts based on YA Books Here!

Today’s post is all about storytelling!

While I do love reading, I also enjoy writing and there are so many ideas for novels that I’m eager to draft and that’s where podcasts come in.

When I find myself feeling unmotivated to write or find myself getting writer’s block, I listen to podcasts featuring authors and hosts that discuss writing/storytelling. After listening to authors or hosts discuss writing, writing tips, etc. it just inspires me to get back to my current WIP and keep on writing!

Storytelling is something I enjoy in a number of forms (Books, TV Shows, Video Games, etc.) and these podcasts are ones that I highly recommend if your looking to keep yourself inspired to create stories!88 Cups Of Tea With Yin Chang

1. 88 Cups Of Tea with Yin Chang

Summary: 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang is a podcast for the aspiring and professional storyteller alike. On the show, Yin chats with international bestselling novelists, screenwriters, and filmmakers about their journey to success. They also discuss career advice and “how-to’s” for listeners to apply actionable steps towards their own storytelling careers. 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang is a safe space for listeners to learn, and to feel empowered, inspired, and motivated. Welcome to our tribe of storytellers!

Why: Ranging from 30 minutes to an hour, Yin Chang’s interviewing brings such a great energy to the chat while following each storyteller’s journey, while providing great tips and advice for those eager to tell a story!

First Draft With Sarah Enni2. First Draft Podcast 

Summary: A podcast series featuring interviews with young adult and middle grade authors, about books, creative writing, an epic road trip, music, bookstores, tall tales & more.

Why: Sarah Enni (host) delivers a great in-depth conversation with authors interviewed both from Young Adult & Middle Grade. Its a fun podcast to listen to because I learn more about the authors themselves aside from just their path to publication among other aspects to their writing.

PubCrawl Podcast3. PubCrawl Podcast

Summary: Authors & publishing pros blogging about all things reading, writing, books, and booze. Reading You Under The Table Since 2012.

Why: I’ve just started listening to this podcast and I love the “Writing Mechanics” episodes! From what I’ve seen it also features a number of series surrounding tips for writing, authors, publishing, etc.  It offers a wide variety of writing and publishing advice and really goes in depth on a number of topics! Some of those include:

~Characterization: Discussing different character types such as protagonists + villains

~Publishing 101 (201, 301, Etc.): Discussing aspects of publishing + the publishing industry

~Troubleshooting Craft: Expanding on issues or elements that come up when plotting/drafting (Killing off characters, Expanding/Elaborating, and Earning Emotional Payoff

Have you listened to any of these podcasts?

Any recommendations for more writing podcasts to check out?

Let’s Discuss In The Comments Below! 🙂

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Review

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Cover Reveal 2017Empress Of A Thousand Skies (Empress #1)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 314

Summary: CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Belleza delivers a character driven sci-fi space opera that discusses very timely issues + politics as a princess + a tv celebrity find themselves on the run!

Empress had so many great elements! It was very plot + character driven and had little to no romance for most of the novel.

Being told through dual POV (3rd person) and it worked extremely well for this story! Because both characters aren’t exactly together for most of the novel, we get to see the politics, culture, etc. of the unique worlds from differing perspectives.

Aly, due to his Wraetan background is seen as different by others and fears if he is to do anything to damage his reputation while on TV, it would look bad for all Wraetans. Reading that made me feel so bad for Aly (with all the pressure upon his shoulders). Reading from his POV brought up very relevant and timely issues one could mirror to our own world that is sadly still seen today, how there are those out there who aren’t as accepting when they view people from other cultures and see them only as “different.” Which is so wrong!

Through Aly’s POV we see that just because he is Wraetan, he is framed from Rhee’s assassination.

Aly really goes into depth about his war-torn home and the struggles he’s faced to get to where he is. I loved the expansion on this subject, not only because it mirrors our own and gives perspective, but it shows how wrong/harmful these ideas are and can be.

As with Rhee, she flees her home planet after she nearly escapes an assassination attempt on her own life. She finds herself charting across different planets to track down who she suspects is behind her assassination and reclaim her throne!

She was very determined and came up with plans, however usually hesitated when the moments to enact her revenge finally came. With this all suddenly upon her, it would make sense that she would have her reasons for hesitation. Regardless, while she does make mistakes, she grows and no matter what happened along the way, she stayed true to herself and her goal. She never strayed away from it!

My heart broke reading what he had faced! I loved reading from both POV’s however Aly’s was definitely my favorite! Aly lost his family, his home, faced discrimination but no matter what, he kept pushing forward and never gave up fighting to clear his name.

From what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure there is a sequel! So I’m hoping with the next one, Rhee, Aly and the other characters introduced are given even more background and development, because there was so much mystery surrounding these characters.

I loved the unique aspects that Belleza was able to weave into this story, from the memory cube technology to the unique creatures found across the planets.

Additionally, a majority of the cast of characters were people of color, which is amazing!! I’m always happy to read a book with a diverse cast!! ❤

For the plot as a whole, I was kept surprised with each and every page! I could never guess where the story was headed which I adored, because it kept me invested from start to finish!

As for the pacing it was rather slow for me, however the mysteries that unfold had me turning the page to figure out who was behind it all!

As mentioned + introduced above, Belleza continued to discuss very timely issues such as immigration, politics, views on technology & privacy + so much more!

That is an aspect I loved so much about Empress! She really makes them an integral part of the plot and overall themes of the novel that really have you thinking all through out the entire story.

Additionally, there are so many layers to the story as a whole. Essentially, from Rhee’s perspective you learn there is a treaty in place and while it made the worlds stable when Rhee’s father established it, there’s still discrimination and tension between the planets.

Now as to why it wasn’t a full 5-stars:

First off I will admit, the summary was a little misleading for me, because going into the book I assumed Rhiannon + Aly would be together for most of the novel, however that wasn’t the case which is what I was expecting.

There were some moments I wish the worlds themselves were fleshed out a little more, while a lot of social issues are brought up within each world and discussed when Aly or Rhee visit them, in terms of descriptions + atmosphere I wanted a little more!

Empress Of A Thousand Skies is a thought-provoking story which takes the time to discuss very timely issues, introduces multi-layered politics and world-building, puts characters and plot at the center, and overall delivers a refreshing and unique tale in YA Sci-Fi!

Warcross by Marie Lu Cover Reveal

Marie Lu, author of the New York Times Bestselling Legend Trilogy + The Young Elites Trilogy just had her cover reveal for Warcross, her latest novel set to hit shelves this fall!

When a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

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

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

I’m such a big fan of Marie’s books and being a gamer myself, I am beyond excited to read this book! ❤

Now for the cover…

Warcross Cover Reveal

Oh gosh! I really like this cover! ❤

It really gives off a “video-game”-type of vibe & I love that!

The bright colors + rainbow element really makes it stand out and I cannot wait to see how it’ll look in hardcover!

I also love how the pattern really brings a unique delivery for the title!

It did take me by surprise, but I love the general theme of it and feel its an overall really fun and bright cover and as always Marie’s covers are so unique!! (´▽`ʃƪ)

Originally released from Entertainment Weekly, there was both a cover reveal and excerpt which you can check out Here!

Warcross is set to be released October 3, 2017!

So what are your thoughts on the Warcross cover? 

Lets discuss in the comments below! 🙂

Traitor To The The Throne Playlist

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

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

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

Songs featured in this playlist are from:

~Derek & Brandon Fiechter~

~Final Fantasy XIII/XV ~Final Fantasy Tactics~

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

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

A Conjuring Of Light by V.E. Schwab Review

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

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 624

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

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

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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