A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 1 by Makoto Hagino {Manga Review}

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 1 by Makoto Hagino

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Volume 1

Summary: When her dad gets a job overseas, Konatsu Amano has to leave the Tokyo life she’s always known and relocate to a small seaside town to stay with her aunt. The move also means starting a new school surrounded by complete strangers, and it’s a lot to handle for a girl who has trouble with change. But on her first day in her new town, Konatsu is instantly drawn to Koyuki, an older girl who is the sole member of the Aquarium Club. Konatsu’s introverted tendencies are hard for her to overcome, but maybe she’s found something worth coming out of her shell for?

Konatsu is doing her best to adapt to her new school, but being required to join a club has introduced additional pressures. Her friendly classmate Kaede invites her to join the Home Ec Club, but Konatsu hasn’t even had time to consider which club she’s interested in. Meanwhile, Koyuki is like a ray of sunshine in Konatsu’s cloudy world. Will Konatsu join the Aquarium Club?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a charming, slice-of-life manga debut that follows the bond between two girls who go to the same school in a seaside town! Their instant connection makes for a wholesome, sweet story as the relationship grows with each page! Featuring much SLOWBURN and YEARNING, this is a fantastic start to a new series!

A quiet, seaside town, a chance encounter at a school aquarium, and two girls who are in their own ways…lonely. This is the beginning of A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow, easily one of my new favorite manga series!!

Konatsu Amano moves to Nagahama to live with her aunt after her father gets a job overseas. However, Konatsu can’t let go of this loneliness that’s buried within her. But, when she sees her new high school with an open house for its aquarium, she finds herself instantly drawn to Koyuki Honatsu, the club’s leader and only member.

There’s a comforting, almost delicate, gentle bond that forms between these two girls and that exact feeling unfurls throughout the various layers of this story from its art style, character dynamics, themes, and underlying romance. It’s beautiful & although it seems like a very simple story, Hagino’s masterful execution is anything but that.

As Konatsu tries to drift among the current of her new life at school, she can’t help but feel those tides shift whenever she sees or hears about Koyuki! There’s such intense emotion that’s woven throughout the entirety of this first volume and it’s in a way, poetic?

The reader is left with a sense of melancholy, but also bountiful feeling of joy seeing these two girls continue to bond and navigate the emotions they feel for each other.

As each student is required to join a club, Konatsu wonders whether joining Koyuki’s Aquarium Club is a good idea (with her feelings for Koyuki only continuing to build) as her other classmate Hirose, recommends the Home Ec. club. The author brilliantly delves into the inner complexities of our heroines, the complicated emotions they have for one another, and the underlying sense of loneliness.

Konatsu instantly finds a friend in Hirose, the bubbly, extroverted classmate who gets her to see the aquarium in the first place! She’s just a really fun character and seeing Konatsu’s inner conflict with wondering whether to accept or decline her offer to join Hirose in the Home Ec club turned out to be very funny. I can’t wait to see all 3 of these girls bond even more over the next volumes!

Hagino builds such a fascinating, unique slice-of-life school atmosphere through Nanahama High School, not only through its minimal details, but also by emphasizing the importance of clubs! The inclusion of having club involvement be mandatory for students just added to the distinct atmosphere of Nanahama.

Now the ROMANCE is very slowburn, but also achingly soft and sweet. The tiniest moments really capture an entire scene whether its small hand holds, sharing food, or just the longing gazes. This SAPPHIC romance has really gone under the radar and hopefully my review inspires you to pick up this series!

There’s such wonderful imagery and metaphors woven throughout Vol. 1, especially when it comes to salamanders, which becomes the foundation for the girls’ dynamic! Masuji Ibuse’s “Salamander” to a salamander in the aquarium club from the very first pages, even to Konatsu calling it by Koyuki’s name, represents the desire for these two to escape the cold, loneliness they feel.

At its heart, its such a beautiful message about the two allowing each other to escape when they feel trapped and isolated. Though Koyuki feels more of a weight from expectations from those around her and in turn, she never really feels understood. All the details about marine life are beautifully woven in as well, very much looking forward to see how the author develops it!

One of my favorite moments between them was on page 36 when the aquatic background takes over the scene as they hold hands at the beach! We see how much Konatsu and Koyuki mean to each other with every moment their on page together (or even just thinking about one another), its very cute!! ❤

The budding relationship between Konatsu and Koyuki is not only delicate and gentle, but also brilliantly captivating in how it navigates emotion, yearning, just…all those layered feelings!

Story-wise although its definitely slower-paced, its very character-driven, which in turn draws you into all these other captivating elements of the story because of how wonderfully developed they are. The writing is also very good and I can count many beautiful lines that show the deep, inner feelings the girls had for each other.

The artwork is wonderful, allowing for a slow, introspective view of the story. Its in the detail of the characters, expressions, alongside the backgrounds, that bring so much to each scene. The inclusion of the aquatic elements like the ocean, marine animals, etc., all add to that special world that these two have carved for themselves and its really beautiful. I’d even say through moments where the animals around them seem more animated or a salamander appears on their shoulders/near by, uses an element of magical realism/fabulism to convey the importance of their inner voices.

If you take anything away from this review, its that you should definitely pick up this series and get carried away by its remarkable story! Tropical Fish has easily become one of my new favorite manga series, Konatsu and Koyuki have captured my heart!!

Despite the 4.5 star rating, this is a 5-star series ABSOLUTELY!! I think its just wanting a bit more to our characters in this first volume, but despite that I adored it so much!

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a fantastic yuri manga series filled with a slow-burn, heartwarming romance, wonderful main heroines, unique school setting, gorgeous symbolism, and an immersive story you won’t be able to put down!

Finale by Stephanie Garber Review

Finale by Stephanie Garber CR: Flatiron BooksFinale by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #3)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Pages: 478

Available Through The Book Depository: Finale (UK Paperback Edition)

Summary: A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

*Finale spoilers are in this review*

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Finale is the page-turning conclusion to the Caraval series! Expansion on the lore of the world, focus on character-development, and romance take center stage as sisters Scarlett and Tella work together to save their world while also finding their happy endings!

Finale! This is a book I was actually surprised I’d put off to the side when it first released because I’d read Caraval and Legendary back to back last year! But I’d finally taken time to see what this final book had in store and finished it within just a couple days! Now that I’ve finally read it, I have so many thoughts on it, but overall I’d say its a really satisfying ending to this series!

What I appreciated about this final book was how it continued to build on the lore and mythology of the world, especially regarding the Fates!

For me, Caraval has always been one of those series where I’d sped through each book within a couple days and enjoyed immersing myself in a fun fantasy world for a while–that’s something I really appreciate these books! No matter my critiques of this series, I’ve always just appreciated finding the fun in following Scarlett and Tella on their grand adventures throughout the world of Caraval!

Finale starts with both Scarlett and Tella in a place of sadness. Scarlett’s felt abandoned by Julian decides to see if she can make her arrangement work with Nicolas d’Arcy, while Tella has felt nothing but loneliness since Legend left her and he only visits her in dreams while he reins over as prince.

Throughout this novel, both sisters go on journeys of growth and development to better understand who they want to be in this magical world they’ve gotten themselves mixed up in.

Overall, as I’m reflecting on Finale I found that message was something that stuck with me as I followed each character’s story. From Legend, Jacks, to the Fates, Paloma, etc. what this last book really takes time to explore is the sacrifices characters learn to make not only for themselves, but for others and their world. This novel really focuses on the growth and healing of our main cast of characters!

Slowly Scarlett, Tella, and Julian begin to realize that now with Fates having escaped, they’ve found their way into the real world and are causing havoc in Elantaine. But, it goes beyond more than just that as Tella learns they still have a connection to her mother, but more specifically one in particular–The Fallen Star.

Finale is incredibly character-driven and I appreciate that! Throughout the series, Garber has always written her characters in such a way that’s allowed me to really connect with them and in Finale I felt she made that an even bigger focus.

This last book also has a lot more romance, which was nice! However, I did find it took up a lot of the story at points, especially when it came to Tella’s story-line. I definitely understood why it did though: Tella feels all by herself and when we learn Legend is avoiding her because its tied to his immortality/powers, Jacks is the only one willing to help and be honest with her, agreeing to alter her emotions to take away her pain.

But as I read, I felt the romance did drag a bit too much for too long. Especially when it came to Tella and Legend, it took steps back when it didn’t need to and the plot point of Scarlett creating a competition between Julian & Nicolas–why??  Its so obvious Julian is meant for her and just felt like filler.

I will say though, I loved Jacks and would say he’s probably one of my favorite characters  & Fates in this book (and the series maybe?), he deserved more in my opinion!! He helped Tella and offered her answers to help with the Fates when she wasn’t sure. Although he is cunning and deceptive, even knowing he just wanted to win over Tella, he still decided to help them anyways.

It was also great to see Julian and Dante interact with the original Caraval crew again, though I am sad because they were only present for a small portion of the story. Finale delivered a lot of growth and development to the 3 guys: Julian, Legend/Dante, & Jacks and you could really see how they each changed over the course of the story!

Now onto more critical points that lowered my rating on this last book! I think the whole reading experience of Finale made me think more about series finales as a whole and how they wrap up. I did read Finale with a more critical lens because the journey of reading this hyped-up series overall and being an aspiring fantasy writer, just made me go into it analyzing different elements of the story a lot more deeply!

Firstly, the pacing. While it was great to get both Scarlett and Tella’s POVs because it added so many layers to the story, compared to previous books, I felt Finale was definitely slower. Which is interesting because when I looked at the page counts, Legendary is only about 20 pages less. Plot points for me really dragged for a while longer than they needed to–such as Tella jumping between Legend and Jacks & Scarlett being trapped with the Fallen Star to name a few.

For me I felt it wasn’t until Jacks helped Tella out, that her storyline began to move forward a lot faster. Though I will say that I appreciated Scarlett taking a more active role compared to her role in Legendary!

Now onto world-building! I loved getting all these facets to explore the lore and how it developed alongside the plot, such as getting to meet the Fates and seeing them interact with the universe of Caraval. For example, seeing Poisoner’s work early on with Scarlett and Julian and understanding how Legend could help Jacks regain all his power. However, I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I didn’t feel like the setting itself expanded or changed in this book a whole lot. I’m also not sure if this makes sense, but when looking at Caraval, Legendary, and Finale together as a whole…it felt like the mechanisms and atmosphere of each of them (in regards to the world) changed between each one and I’m not sure how I felt about that.

The writing itself, while it was cinematic and nice to read, did feel overly descriptive. Generally speaking, I felt it didn’t do much to really build on the actual setting itself. Also, I’m not sure if its just me but there were SO many dress descriptions in this book 😂!

I think another element of the story that made a decline the further I read, was the main villain and his motivations. I felt they really fell apart and just ended up dragging up until Tella, Scarlett, and the team developed their plan, then the story and pacing got a lot better (there’s also time-travel involved! I’m only disappointed it was brought in this late into the series and was used to conveniently tie up the ending).

I will say though that I loved exploring the magic system a lot more in-depth through not only the Fates, but also characters we’ve gotten to know such as Legend, Jacks, and more interestingly Scarlett!

Above all, Finale had a lot of different plot threads and I’m happy that Garber wrapped them all up very nicely!

Finale is Garber’s last return to the world of Caraval, tying together the Dragna’s sisters journeys! The mystery, romance, character-development, and mythology are just some of the many elements weaved into this final book that will keep you reading till the last page! The dark, magical, and immersive world of Caraval comes to an end in this satisfying conclusion!

Takane & Hana Vol. 1 by Yuki Shiwasu {Manga Review}

Takane and Hana Volume 1 by Yuki ShiwasuTakane & Hana Vol. 1 by Yuki Shiwasu (Takane & Hana #1)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 200

Available Through The Book Depository: Takane & Hana Volume 1

Summary: A strong-willed high school girl and a hot, young scion of a business empire can’t help trying to outwit each other every chance they get… But could these opposites be conning themselves out of the perfect match?!

After her older sister refuses to go to an arranged marriage meeting with Takane Saibara, the heir to a vast business fortune, high schooler Hana Nonomura agrees to be her stand-in to save face for the family. But what happens when Hana meets Takane is an unexpected pairing of utter opposites!

The meeting between Takane and Hana ends in an explosive manner, and Hana is convinced that she’ll never have to see that awful Takane again. But Takane actually seems interested in Hana! Exasperated by Takane’s immature attitude, yet amused and intrigued despite herself, Hana embarks on a hilarious journey with Takane that just might lead to love!

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Takane & Hana is an incredibly comedic manga series that follows high school student Hana Nonomura, who stands in for her sister as part of an arranged marriage to business heir to the Takaba Group, Takane Saibara and the comedic banter/ rivalry that develops between the two!

I originally learned about Takane & Hana through Goodreads as I was scrolling the new released manga and this one caught my eye! From the summary, it seemed like there’d be enemies to lovers and a lot of funny/comedic moments and I was not wrong!

If I was to sum up this manga in one word it would be: Entertaining!

Being on the verge of a reading slump isn’t fun, but this manga series was one I’m incredibly glad I picked up because its light, filled with humor, incredibly entertaining & absolutely hilarious!

Though I never know what to expect going into a new manga series, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found yet another series that’s impressed me from page 1 and that I’m happy to say is a new favorite series!

With every page I was laughing at Takane & Hana’s non-stop enemies streak/rivalry they had going on and just seeing how these 2 dynamic main characters continuously interacted with each other!

The story starts with us learning that Hana’s older sister Yukari was originally going to be involved in the arranged marriage to Takane, but she had other plans (aka another date). So, in order to save her father’s position at the company, Hana decided to take her place!

When they first meet, things do not go as planned and we learn Takane is a bit of a jerk–& Hana is not putting up with it!

Takane, through his very brash personality, tells Hana he’s interested in her! Though they can’t really stand each other, sparks are definitely there.

Both Takane & Hana are characters with such strong & conflicting, but also similar personalities and that’s what makes their chemistry together so good!

Takane and Hana Vol. 1 chronicles their meeting, hangouts together as their “relationship” continues, among various other plot threads–mainly involving Hana & the people in her life, like her father & sister Yukari (briefly) and her best friends/school life!

What makes this series so funny is Hana & Takane obviously are trying to out-wit one another, avoid each other as much as possible, and have the upper-hand when it comes to their banter, but something keeps them coming back to each other!

I love how them being in different economic classes made for a lot of the comedic moments in this story and how in general, its a relevant and present discussion to their relationship.

As the story progresses we begin to see Takane isn’t exactly the heartless person he appears to be. It was great seeing the little moments throughout their hangouts (*like the bowling date) when Hana would notice Takane’s strides to make more of an effort to be a nicer person and be willing to try new things!

Takane & Hana made me realize just how much I love the “can’t stand one another, but secretly love each other” Trope! Every scene they have together, even if their just thinking about each other just showed how much chemistry they had & I loved seeing their interactions so much.

We also see that even though they despise each other, Shiwasu just brings such a comedic and interesting dynamic to the both of them where I never know how they’ll react to each other next!

All the supporting characters are all really well developed and bring even more humor & heart to this story! From Hana’s friends Hikaruko & Mizuki, her sister Yukari, Takane’s grandfather, & one of Hana’s classmates who seems to be like a more important character in future volumes!

The art is so expressive and detailed! It reminded me a lot of Monthly Girls-Nozaki with the expressive faces and detail to the characters! I also love how detailed the backgrounds were.

Though it is a contemporary, I found the setting and atmosphere to be very present within this volume and seeing how it explored Japan through Takane & Hana’s different backgrounds.

*I will admit that though this series is so funny & the chemistry between these characters is very good, there is a bit of an age gap between them!* (10 years) With Hana being 16 & Takane being 26–though truly it doesn’t read that way b/c Takane seems to act like somewhat of an immature guy & not his age at all. This was something I wasn’t expecting, however, the age difference is discussed at various points and is never romanticized. This element is why I’m honestly very conflicted with this review– now, I don’t condone/overlook it, but in a general sense if you can see past that to see the characters for who they are + are looking for a hilarious  manga–this is one I think would be enjoyable. The dynamic between the two also seems to walk more towards finding trust as friends? *

Regardless though, this was a hilarious manga & I can’t wait to see whats next with Takane & Hana’s interesting dynamic!

Takane & Hana Vol. 1 is a brilliantly character-driven, entertaining manga that will keep you laughing! The wonderfully developed characters, dynamic between the 2 leads, and immersive plot are just some of the many elements that keeps you turning the page! This is a romantic-comedy manga series worth checking out!

The Wicked King by Holly Black Review

The Wicked King (The Folk Of The Air #2)the wicked king by holly black

Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Pages: 322

Available Through The Book Depository: The Wicked King

Summary: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.

Jude has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were biddable. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a faerie world.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Wicked King is a sequel that raises the stakes as intrigue and politics become a much more central role! Jude attempts to hold onto her power in Elfhame all while keeping Cardan in check! Clever twists and a greater focus on character-development makes The Wicked King a sequel you just can’t put down!

So I started this book last Thursday and was not expecting to get through 90% of it in one afternoon!

I was wary going into The Wicked King because I’d found that Jude wasn’t really the anti-heroine I was expecting, from what so many people were saying about The Cruel Prince. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what level my expectations we’re at because what was motivating me to continue this series was mainly Cardan!

The Wicked King was honestly such a step up from The Cruel Prince, I was more surprised than anything because when I rate a book in the 3-star range, I don’t usually have much motivation to pick up the sequel right away!

So, The Wicked King takes place 5 months after book 1 with Cardan on the throne all while Jude is the power behind it, trying to keep the prince in-check.

She continues to build her strength in the background all while plotting a way to keep her control and form a plan to get Oak on the throne when he’s ready!

What I found The Wicked King did so much better was showcasing the cunning and deceptive side to Jude! In Cruel Prince, were told this, but its never really given much expansion or depth (other than us knowing she wants to be accepted by the fae & constantly telling us she wants power). However, because in The Wicked King Jude finally has what she’s been after, it makes it so much clearer and easier to see where her strategic and political thinking are coming from.

The pacing is much more gripping and fast-paced as well. Early on in The Wicked King, we learn that time has passed since Jude’s deal with Cardan and we feel that sense of urgency because Jude is trying to form as many plans along the way to ensure her power as seneschal isn’t taken away before the year is up.

What I found to be super interesting which lends itself to some amazing character development was Cardan and how he feels about his role as prince! He seems to be pretty nonchalant in the beginning all while knowing that Jude is the one giving him direction on what to do!

Yet, we see these multiple sides to him throughout the novel, not only on how he feels about being prince, but also how he feels about Jude! He continues to be my favorite character in this series.

Jude finds herself attempting to undermine enemies from multiple sides when she learns from Nicasia that someone is going to betray her, Orlagh Queen of the Undersea has a plan of her own, and the mysterious Balekin (Cardan’s older brother) who seems to be plotting something while in the Tower Of Forgetting.

We also learn that there are many in Elfhame who, in secret, don’t find Cardan to be an eligible ruler and his position as High King puts him in quite a bit of danger.

What I really loved about The Wicked King a lot more about The Cruel Prince was the dynamic that built between both Jude and Cardan. Where in The Cruel Prince their relationship didn’t seem to have any solid foundation (aside from Cardan’s bullying & Jude’s one-sided lust for power), Black navigates their relationship with more tension and maturity in this book, that I finally understood the enemies-to-lovers dynamic people were talking about!

There’s this element of trust that gets explored between the both of them throughout their journey in this sequel and I loved how it also lends itself to the development of their relationship.

Jude is a character who really surprised me in The Wicked King! I didn’t really like her all that much in book 1, but seeing Black give her more solid ground for her power and motivations made me really change my view about her.

The world-building itself flowed a lot better too! Focusing more on the general, but differing ties with Cardan as King, I found it much easier to navigate the different classes of Elfahme and what they represent in the grand scheme of the world.

From the Undersea, councils, Jude’s role as seneschal, the other royals, and fae creatures, everything seemed to be developed more smoothly and I found myself understanding each and every element to the politics and the hierarchy of the world!

Even when it comes to the land of Elhame, we learn rulers have a special tie to the land that gets introduced somewhat near the middle & end, but it made for such a great addition to the vastness of the world.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Madoc in Cruel Prince either, but I loved how his storyline really takes on a antagonistic role as he stands against Jude all while we see she still wants to prove himself to her! Their dynamic is built slowly throughout the book, but was one I found was given the perfect amount of development and mystery.

I don’t usually love books where its a good 90% angst and scheming, but wow– The Wicked King got me and I’m obsessed now! I can’t wait to see what happens in The Queen Of Nothing, but I’m also scared because I don’t know if anything after The Wicked King can really top it off!

Now I’m obviously not going to give away the ending, but those last pages really sucked me in and I could not put the book down! I love how we see even more different sides to the characters and their motivations that really come into play at the end!

The writing itself is something I already loved in The Cruel Prince because I found Black’s writing-style really delivered intrigue and an immersive quality to the story! However, in The Wicked King I found it really allowed for all the different elements of the story from the politics, setting, character motivations, deception & planning, and development to come together in a much more coherent way! Everything flowed perfectly!

Now onto some of the minor elements that made me drop a star! Though I love the writing, I did find because its very character-centric, the descriptive elements to the setting and world weren’t as present. Additionally, I wasn’t much of a fan of Taryn & Viv’s storylines, I felt they took away from Jude’s overall story (which was much more engaging) and did slow the pacing a little.

Also similar to The Cruel Prince, I still don’t buy that Taryn & Jude are twins! As I mentioned in that review, they are just too different and don’t get enough page-time together where I can really see them as twins.

Overall though, I really had fun reading this book! It surprised me in a lot of ways and I’m looking forward to book 3!

The Wicked King is an immersive and page-turning sequel to The Cruel Prince! There’s a more focused development on the characters and inner politics involving the throne of Elfhame! From Jude attempting to hold onto her power with Cardan on the throne, mysterious enemies, and intrigue at every turn, this is a great continuation to the Folk Of The Air Series!

October 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi1. Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2.5)

Library | Started September 12 + Finished October 1 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Star-Touched Stories Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This collection is not one to miss for fans of The Star-Touched Series! They explore love, loss, acceptance, finding one’s inner strength & so much more! The 3 stories within this collection include: Death And Night, Poison And Gold, & Rose And Sword. What I adored about this collection is that even though it supplements the series, there continues to be so much development that adds more to the TSTQ world overall, in such a fantastic way! While I did take my time reading this collection, it was until I got to the last story that I was really savoring each moment with these characters & I still wasn’t ready to leave this world behind (B/c this is the final Star-Touched novel). I’m really going to miss Maya, Amar, Aasha, & my fave duo Gauri & Vikram 😭✨❤ My only minor issue is that there was some slow pacing throughout Aasha’s story. I adored this collection so much and felt it wonderfully wrapped up the series!

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab2.Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (Villains #2)

Owned | Started September 27 + Finished October 8 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½|Vengeful Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Vengeful is the sequel we’ve waited years for! This novel is brilliantly dark, action-packed, & character-driven! What Schwab does that really takes this sequel in a different direction, is allowing the story to focus more on new/side-characters (like Marcella & June) and there’s also the introduction to this mysterious organization called EON. I loved getting more to Eli’s backstory and overall seeing the fate of these characters I loved, 5 years later! Schwab brilliantly incorporates numerous POVs across a varied amount of timelines and with series in particular, masterfully ties everything together. As to why it wasn’t a full 5, the pacing did feel a bit slow when I finally saw where the story would lead. As the book progressed, I actually found myself less interested in June as a character, & I really wanted more scenes of Victor & Eli (b/c I adore these messed up super-villains so much!! ❤❤) Above all, Vengeful was an epic, dark, twisted continuation to the Villains Series, that took everything I loved from Vicious & brought it to an entirely new level!

The Royal Tutor Volume 2 by Higasa Akai3. The Royal Tutor Vol. 2 by Higasa Akai (The Royal Tutor #2)

Owned | Started + Finished October 15 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Royal Tutor Volume 2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Royal Tutor is one of my favorite manga series and I was so happy to be continuing it with volume 2! Heine, the tutor, now begins is introductory lessons with the princes. What makes this volume shine is the focus on the characters (mainly princes) and the strong tight-knit bond they share. Their always there to support each-other & I loved seeing my favorite princes be there for one another 😭❤❤✨ The plot unfolds in a great way (as do the mysteries) and the comedy in this series is fantastic! My only minor issue is that I’m really hoping to get more expansion on the setting & there are 2 side characters who barley have any page time, so I don’t feel like I know a whole lot about them. The Royal Tutor continues to be a great manga series with a main cast you can’t help but adore & filled so much humor. I’m really looking forward to the 3rd volume!

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore4. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

ARC |Started October 12 + Finished October 25 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |Blanca & Roja ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Anna-Marie’s tales always captivate me and Blanca & Roja is no different. Her latest lush magical realism tale weaves together Swan Lake with Snow White And Rose Red and its such a beautiful story! We follow sisters Blanca and Roja, who have been raised to be rivals involving a generation-long spell where every generation in their family, one of 2 sisters will become a swan! Having grown up to believe they will always be opposites, Roja believes she will be taken by the swans. Even though this conflict exists between them, their bond is so strong & they are willing to keep secrets to help one another. However things change when 2 boys, Page & Barclay, become involved in this game. As with all of McLemore’s books, she explores identity and gender so beautifully! I adored these 4 with all my heart ❤ The dynamics explored between each of them have so many layers and are beautifully developed. The plot unravels in unexpected & magical ways! Family, love, and identity are such important themes in this novel and are explored with such depth! As with all of Anna-Marie’s novels, they are truly unforgettable & will continue to stay with me! I can’t wait for her next amazing novel~

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta5. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death #1)

ARC | Started October 24 + Finished October 26 |My Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Brilliant Death ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The Brilliant Death was a book I went into with incredibly high expectations and was incredibly happy to see that it exceeded them! Set in a magical 19th Century-inspired Italian setting, we are introduced to Teo(a Strega) who goes on a mission to the country of Vinalia’s capital to save her father (one of 5 heads of the controlling families), when it seems all the families heads have fallen. She must do so, not disguised as a boy, but turned into one! With her Strega abilities, alongside her gender-fluid tutor Cielo, they both embark on this journey & discover so much along the way! The world of Vinalia is detailed, immersive, & given wonderful development + exploration! My only minor issue is that ending did feel a little rushed. However, The Brilliant Death is a wholly unique and fantastic start to a new YA Fantasy series! With exploration of gender & identity, and an adventure filled with politics & intrigue, Amy Rose Capetta’s fantasy debut is not one to miss! I’m expecting so much from this series!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 16. Satoko And Nada by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #1)

Library| Started + Finished October 27 | My Rating: ★★★★★ | Satoko And Nada Volume 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Satoko & Nada is one of those mangas that I think will definitely be loved for fans of YA! Continuing their uni/college studies in America, Satoko and Nada find themselves becoming roommates and the best of friends! What truly shines about this manga debut is the friendship and amazing characters, from Satoko, Nada, Pakeezah, Ameena, Miracle, & Kevin! The characters are so incredibly developed and they really come to life by the end of this first volume! Satoko & Nada also discusses common misconceptions of Saudi & Islamic culture, while also discussing homesickness, etc. Its also really diverse! The pacing is fantastic, the comedy is perfect, & its the kind of story you want to re-read all over again because it leaves a smile on your face! Satoko & Nada is a fantastic manga debut and one I highly recommend if your looking for a comedic contemporary, & slice-of-life story!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Girl In Space Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Author Interview With Janelle Milanes {Analee, In Real Life}

No More Heroes: Hell Or High Water by Michelle Kan {Exclusive Cover Reveal}

Non-Fiction Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To! {Literary Listens}

Book Bytes #16

~ So overall I was pretty happy with the books I read in October & the content I posted ❤🎃✨📚😍 I’m also slowly but, surely getting back on track with my TBR!

Plans For November:

~ As always catch up on ARCs & new releases 😅📚✨ If your interested in seeing more daily reading/bookish updates definitely check out my twitter! & I’ve been in kind of Twitter slump recently, so it’d be so awesome to start bookish conversations on there 😍📚✨❤❤

~ I’ve been working on a new blog feature & I am beyond excited to be debuting it this month on the blog! (Hint: it involves recently released/upcoming fantasy books!!) 😍📚✨⚔

~ I also may have another Literary Listens post up, it could be a podcast review or a podcast recommendation list! (I’m still deciding) 🎙✨

~ I’m also prepping some December & early 2019 posts that will definitely introduce some new bookish content to my blog! ❤❤📚🎉

Thanks for checking out my October 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in October? or Any blog posts you enjoyed creating last month? Are there any that your planning on reading in November? 😍📚✨💕

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi Review

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani ChokshiStar-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2.5)

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Pages: 388

Summary: Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth? 

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Readers are once again immersed into the world of The Star-Touched Queen through three dazzlingly written stories that explore love, loss, acceptance, and so much more! Star-Touched Stories is not a collection to miss for fans of the series! Chokshi’s storytelling weaves magic and wonder with each page!

Death And Night by Roshani Chokshi: ★★★★★

This first story is set up to be a prequel to The Star-Touched Queen, which follows the past lives of Maya & Amar + how they fell in love! (There’s also some references to TSTQ).

Death wanders the land of Naraka, lonely with only the night sky as his solace and comfort. Then there is Night herself, who sells dream fruit (allowing people to have any kind of dream), and all she longs for is recognition or remembrance for what she’s done!

Both are death & night incarnate, and through Chokshi’s writing we get such thought-provoking passages of the movement of time, connection, longing for love, loneliness…just such moving passages that are delivered through each of them and what they long for!

Death runs into Night after hearing about her & figuring she may be the one, before Teej comes (which Death isn’t looking forward to)! They meet after an evening in the Night Bazaar and there beautiful relationship goes from there!

We see how lonely they both are, but in different ways! As their relationship develops, its so clear that they both have fears that are holding them back from being with each other. However, when they are with each other, they begin to see that each of them understands the deepest secrets + dreams within their hearts.

We learn that Death’s heart was cursed by the Shadow Wife to always lose his love and seeing how it added so much more to his apprehension of finding love at first was so incredibly developed and weaved into not only his story, but the story overall! 

I loved how Chokshi developed their relationship and through the beautiful dual POV 1st person narrative, get immersed in such a beautiful tale.

Additionally, through Chokshi exploring both Death & Night, we see how throughout the story, they unlock each others deepest dreams + wishes as they connect and grow with each other.

The descriptions and overall atmosphere of this novella was phenomenal! I could picture Naraka, Nights dream fruit, Death (who had elaborate horns on his head, which was really cool!), the worlds and place both Night & Death explore, the wondrous imagery of the night sky, dreams, etc.!

What also allowed me to really love this story is that through Chokshi’s elegant writing-style, it made me pause and think with every few lines because of how beautifully and thought-provokingly written they were! The breaks I took while reading this novella really allowed the words to sink in and for me to completely fall in love with the story of Death And Night!

Above all what really stuck with me throughout this story was the exploration of love and when you meet someone who truly understands not only do they help you become your best self, but they also allow you to face the truths that aren’t always easy to say out loud that they can clearly see!

This novella explored love, deeply moving emotions, and through such lyrical, profound writing, The tale of Death And Night, was truly one of my favorites!

Poison And Gold by Roshani Chokshi: ★★★★☆ ½

Poison And Gold is a short-story/epilogue to A Crown Of Wishes, which now follows Gauri & Vikram’s friend that they met briefly during the Tournament Of Wishes, Aasha who is a Vishakanya and has left her life as a poisoner behind to be with Gauri & Vikram in the real world.

Now she’s given an opportunity by Vikram & Gauri to become their Spy Mistress and train with the current Spy, Zahril or risk being sent home and no longer being allowed among Gauri & Vikram, according to the council.

Now as she trains among Zahril, she learns more about what it means to be truly human and how as a Vishakanya, she’ll be able to avoid being found out by Zahril while proving she has what it takes to become Spy Mistress.

With my love for A Crown Of Wishes, I was so incredibly happy to return to this world where Vikram & Gauri are now married and busy with ruling over their united kingdoms of Bharata-Ujjain.

I loved seeing the beautiful friendship bloom even stronger between them & Aasha! ❤

Aasha goes through so much development within this story! First, she is still in fear of Vishakanya abilities and the destruction it brings, but over the course of the novel (even if she does have to keep it hidden) she begins to understand more about how it connects to her past when she was the in harem, but also how her powers are a part of her + how she comes to accept it on her journey to become Spy Mistress!

Her instructor, Zahril isn’t exactly all to happy with her there in the first place (& her hatred of Vishakanyas doesn’t make things much easier), but through her trials and tasks, we find how it not only allows Aasha to become more confident in who she is, but how there’s so many different facets to the role Aasha is training for!

We see how this fear of revealing her abilities also brings an element of intrigue and thought-provoking moments as Aasha questions what it means to be a Vishakanya.

There’s also f/f rep., when we learn more to Zahril’s past and how she was in love with a girl named Samza, but was killed by Vishakanyas + as Zahril begins to accept Aasha as a potential candidate, Aasha finds herself falling for her!

The writing as with all of Chokshi’s stories builds so much depth to the world & what we were already familiar with in A Crown Of Wishes! The little details also build on the emotional depth of each character and their view of the world, its magic, etc.

Overall I loved returning to the world of A Crown Of Wishes & seeing my favorite characters again + getting introduced to one of my new favorite characters Zahril! I loved how this story focused on having Aasha accept her strengths and not letting the fear overcome her!

Poison And Gold is a short story that is all about growth, friendship, love, and forging your own path! I loved it!

Rose and Sword:★★★★★

In the kingdom of Bharata-Ujijain, 10-year old Hira helps her sister on the day before her wedding by packing up her favorite toys and putting them in a chest for Meghana. But, Meghana is nervous and lashes out in anger at Hira. So, Hira heads to her grandmother’s quarters where her grandmother recounts a story of a queen on her wedding night.

From what I gathered this story takes place well after A Crown Of Wishes and I loved reading the hints/references to it, like later in the 1st chapter, its stated that the women in Hira’s family were immune to poison and it hinted at a rumor surrounding a blue star they were born with (like w/ Aasha?) & of course the story revolving around Garui & Vikram’s wedding ❤ ❤ + seeing very early on that Hira’s grandmother is Gauri.

I just loved seeing this past/present/future timeline to see how Gauri & Vikram were doing!!

The story follows Gauri on the day before her wedding and the journey, she’s feeling so many different things (especially uncertainty, maybe fear). So, she is shocked when she realizes Vikram is sick and she stays with him as its revealed that the physicians aren’t sure whats wrong.

When its revealed that a messenger of death may come for Vikram, Gauri knows she will do whatever it takes to make sure he is brought back! So the messenger (which disguises itself as Gauri) tasks her with reaching & retrieving Vikram’s last breath from the Kingdom Of Death by passing many Gates, before sunrise!

The journey to the first gate leaves Gauri remembering her sister Maya & reflecting on an argument she & Vikram had in the past, a reminder to who she could lose if she doesn’t make it in time.

Its so clear the love each other and that they’ve both grown so much, and knowing what’s at stake, my heart broke during her flashbacks.

Next, Gauri makes it to the Gate Of Grief and into an unknown white palace, where she finds Vikram’s voice, but learns something about love, the truth that there will be a day when she loses him, and the bravery of love, (even when you let go)!

Gauri then makes it in time to get back to Vikram! I loved reading about how their wedding turned out and what Hira takes away from the story in the end, when she thinks of the anger (which was actually a sense of fear) that Meghana had before her own wedding!

Now I don’t want to spoil it, but the epilogue that finished off this story was beautiful, there were definitely some tears (I love Gauri & Vikram so much!! 😭✨❤❤)

Overall, though I absolutely adored every tale in Star-Touched Stories, my only minor issue is that the pacing was a bit slow for me as I spent quite a bit more on reading through Poison And Gold!

Also what makes Star-Touched Stories such a great short story collection as a whole, is that it also adds more the world and story itself, while also giving enough time to develop everything so perfectly from the characters, setting, descriptions, plotting, pacing, etc.

What made Star-Touched Stories so incredibly special was spending one last book with the amazing characters like Gauri, Vikram, Aasha, the past selves of Maya & Amar! I hadn’t really thought about it until I began reading Rose And Sword, and that’s when I was just savoring each page with these characters, because looking back, Chokshi’s Star-Touched novels have just stuck with me ever since I first read them and even with the many other books I’ve read, her series has truly stayed with me! I got a bit emotional as I read through Gauri looking after Vikram as he was sick 😭✨

Star-Touched Stories is a collection of three beautifully written tales that take readers back to the world of Chokshi’s Star-Touched Series! Wrapping up the series, the stories explore the complexities of loss, love, finding ones inner strength, and so much more! Chokshi’s beautifully descriptive writing delivers on building even more into the Star-Touched Queen world as a whole and the magnificent characters we’ve come to love from the series!

Waiting On Wednesday #10

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly blog feature to showcase/spotlight anticipated book releases!

It was created by Jill at BreakingTheSpines 

This week I’m spotlighting…

Heartstruck (Flicker #1) by Angeli E. DumatolHeartstruck by Angeli E. Dumatol (Flicker #1)

Publisher: Smashwords

Release Date: September 15, 2018

Pages: 124

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Alexa Zamora looks as if she’s always been the beautiful and graceful center of attention. If you knew her in grade school though, you’d remember a sad little girl, who had lost her parents, and spent most of her time on the martial art arnis—a rough sport, not something girls were supposed to like. If you knew her then, you might have ostracized her for it.

She learned from this mistake, and has done her best to hide all traces of her sport and skill in a new school, and now she’s New Hope Academy’s It Girl. But transfer student Theo Guevarra, who happens to be her old arnis buddy and first love, arrives and makes her question the life she’s been living. How long can she keep up appearances, before it all falls apart?

Heartstruck was a book that was recently added to my TBR!

I originally heard about it through Sil at TheBookVoyagers! (´▽`ʃƪ) ❤

I always go to Sil’s twitter for new & upcoming recommendations for indie & romance authors! She had recently tweeted about this book and the cover/summary immediately caught my attention!

The main character Alexa is the academy It Girl and in her past, spent her time doing martial arts arnis. Now at her new school, she’s left that passion behind her, but when a boy from her past, Theo Guevarra happens to be a new transfer student at her school, things begin to change!

The summary itself sounds so different from any other YA Contemporary I’ve read and I’m really looking forward to reading more about Alexa & Theo!

I also don’t usually read many sports-related contemporary, but this one sounds amazing and I was immediately hooked from the summary !!

Everything about Heartstruck has me really looking forward to reading it! + I’m always looking to support diverse/ #OwnVoices books (& this book has Filipino rep.!)

Can’t wait to read Heartstruck!! It releases Sept. 15, 2018!

YA Contemporary Books That Need Netflix Adaptations {Book Blog Discussion}

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanThe long awaited film adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA Contemporary novel To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, debuted on Netflix August 17!

As a fan of Han’s To All The Boys trilogy, I was incredibly happy to finish the film asking myself a couple questions:“P.S. I Still Love You is going to be a thing, right?” but also, “What other YA Contemporary Books do I need to see adapted on Netflix, like in the near future?”

With the well deserved love of Han’s spectacular novel come to life on the small screen, I have a list of YA Contemporary books that I would love to see on screen and if we’re lucky, could be Netflix’s next YA Contemporary adaptation! (For either show or film💕).

(* And because I’m always looking to support diverse/inclusive books, I’ll add the rep. within each book if it has any!)

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes1.The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes (Cuban-American MC & anxiety rep. and overall diverse cast) 

Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

Why It Needs A Netflix Adaptation: This YA Contemporary is so heartfelt, funny, and really centers around family and friendship! With the main character Victoria really growing over the course of the story, she finds the courage to come out of her shell and pursue her passions, its something I’m sure many can relate to! Milanes’s debut has such a unique plot, so much heart, dynamic & diverse cast of characters, and focuses on music!! The Victoria In My Head just hits all the notes for a perfect adaptation!

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia2. Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Social anxiety/anxiety rep.)

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Why It Needs A Netflix Adaptation: This story includes an exploration of mental health (anxiety and depression). The way these deeply complex and relatable main characters are developed, is something not usually seen on-screen! There’s webcomics, fanfiction, internet culture/fandom, and the overall perspective of an online content creator, that aren’t usually explored in mainstream entertainment! There’s themes of family, heart-warming friendship & maybe even romance! (And as a plus: It would be so cool to see Eliza’s webcomic & Wallace’s fan-fiction animated or edited somehow on screen!)

Flight Season by Marie Marquardt3.Flight Season by Marie Marquardt (Brazilian/Brazilian-American & Indigenous Guatemalan MC’s)

Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.

As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.

Why It Needs A Netflix Adaptation: The way love, loss, family, acceptance, forgiveness, and countless other themes are explored in this book, would make this such a moving story on-screen! TJ, Vivi, & Ángel’s lives weave together and through that, the story explores complex, beautiful dynamics of their friendship and how they grow + learn from each other. With exploration on topics of immigration, grief/acceptance, economic struggles, and so much more– it’s a character-driven story that becomes so real!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi4.Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (Korean rep., Korean-American MC & side characters that have Black & Mexican-American rep.)

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Why It Needs A Netflix Adaptation: Emergency Contact is truly a contemporary romance like no other! There’s such a focus on the main characters Penny & Sam, as they find solace in each other while they navigate family, obstacles in life, & loneliness. With their relationship explored via texting too, I think this element of the story would be nice to see on screen. With the story told through Penny & Sam’s POV, also as college students, elements from starting out in college, working while in school, etc. is something that I would love to see explored on screen too!

Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine5.Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine ( Saudi-Arabian rep.)

Sixteen-year-olds Leena and Mishie are best friends. They delight in small rebellions against the Saudi cultural police—secret Western clothing, forbidden music, flirtations. But Leena wants college, independence—she wants a different life. Though her story is specific to her world (a world where it’s illegal for women to drive, where a ten-year-old boy is the natural choice as guardian of a fatherless woman), ultimately it’s a story about friendship, family, and freedom that transcends cultural differences.

Why It Needs A Netflix Adaptation: Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this story emphasizes so much on female friendships, the various dynamics of that friendship, and the power of it! The complexity to this novel from the politics within Riyadh, Leena’s dream to continue pursuing a higher education, exploration of friendship, love, and seeking independence, Driving By Starlight is a powerful and incredibly moving story that would be amazing to see adapted on screen!

And those are 5 of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary books that need Netflix adaptations!! I highly recommend checking out each of these books, they are incredible!! 😍📚🎉📽

Out of each of them, I can definitely picture these as films: Eliza & Her Monsters, Emergency Contact, & Driving By Starlight!

As for the others, it seems they could go either way, but I feel they would be better suited as shows!

Have you found your next YA Contemporary read & would these be the next Netflix film or TV show to watch?

Any YA Contemporary books you want to have Netflix deals? Let’s Discuss In The Comments!

Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion Review

Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay ChampionSomeday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion

Publisher: KCP Loft

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Pages: 270

Summary: Dominique is a high school junior from a gritty neighborhood in Trenton, where she and her mom are barely getting by.

Ben is a musical prodigy from the Upper East Side, a violinist at a top conservatory with obsessive talent and a brilliant future.

When Dom’s class is taken to hear a concert at Carnegie Hall, she expects to be bored out of her mind. But then she sees the boy in the front row playing violin like his life depends on it — and she is transfixed.

Posing as an NYU student, Dom sneaks back to New York City to track down Ben Tristan, a magnetic genius who whisks her into a fantasy world of jazz clubs and opera, infatuation and possibility. Each sees something in the other that promises to complete them.

As Dom’s web of lies grows, though, so does Ben’s obsessive need to conquer Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata. But Ben’s genius, which captivates Dominique, conceals a secret, and the challenges of her life may make it difficult to help him.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Someday, Somewhere is a lyrical YA Contemporary that follows Ben and Dominique, their own separate journeys, and how the relationship they forge offers a bright light in a hazy, uncertain future! Eloquent writing, deeply complex characters, with a moving plot about family, love, self-growth, and chasing after your dreams!

Where to start with this book! I had my eye on Someday, Somewhere for a while and decided to finally pick it up!

It had me feeling so many things! Joy, sadness, heartbreak, acceptance!! This book has shattered me (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)♥♥

I just can’t believe this book is over!! I loved it so much!! ❤ ❤

I flew through Someday, Somewhere and it had me so emotional, from my attachment to the characters, the emotional depth woven throughout, etc! Champion’s YA Contemporary has easily become another one of my favorite reads of 2018 + made it onto my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary books!

Someday, Somewhere follows Dominique Hall, who lives in a poor neighborhood in Trenton, N.J. with her best friend Cass and then there’s Ben Tristian who lives in a wealthy area of New York, attending a prestigious music school, Brighton Conservatory.

The novel starts with Dom & her class attending a concert at Carnegie Hall for a field trip.

With the financial stress of her mother’s laundromat, Spin Cycle, her dreams of becoming a dancer + attending NYU becoming more fantasy than reality, her uncertainty of the future, and a million other uncertainties, she finds solace in Ben’s violin playing that moves her to tears.

I loved how the differing lifestyles/finances, were explored and discussed through Dom’s POV and how it clearly differed from Ben’s more privileged lifestyle! I don’t usually see that in YA Contemporary, so I’m glad it was really given enough page time to have it discussed.

Told through dual POV, the novel then follows Dominique as she & Cass work together to try and find Ben, so Dominique can put into words just how much his music meant to her.

As for Ben, a star violinist at Brighton, he just wants to prove himself as a great musician and be the best, as he practices Beethoven’s Kreutzer for the upcoming Sonata Showcase. This performance only features 12 students and if he gets in, it’ll prove all that he’s worked years for will finally lead him somewhere.

As Dominique finally gets a chance to meet Ben, the lies she shares, for fear of him not accepting who she really is, begin to build & build as their relationship develops.

However, over the course of the story Dom finds the courage to not only be honest with him, but also herself as they both forge an incredible relationship.

This novel focuses so much on finding oneself, as seen through Ben & Dom’s POVs. While Champion does a spectacular job at building each of the other characters, you really get into Ben & Dom’s heads and learn so much about their dreams, fears, and passion to follow their hearts.

Music weaves its way into this story in such a elegant way, especially through the writing. Seen through Ben’s POV, with his passion and drive for classical music, we see how its weaved into the way he views the world.

I loved the relationship that builds! Though some may see it as very quick progression, I found it just worked so well with the story, its characters, and when you get to the heart of Ben & Dom’s dynamic, its clear its so much more than meets the eye.

I loved both Dom & Ben equally! You find yourself rooting for each of them. With Dom’s bravery to seek out Ben, follow her dreams, and take chances, I loved her so much and she was such a great main character. As for Ben, with his passion to be a great musician, you understand, but you also feel heartache for him, when its clear at times he pushes himself too much.

Ben is overly confident and it shows through his inner thoughts when he’s critical of his classmates and people in his life. Dom is very hopeful, though she has fears for what is in the future, her persistence to follow her dreams continued to build throughout the entire story!

Overall I loved how complex and dynamic Ben and Dom were. They are very different, but you see this passion they both share and how it connects them. You really get to understand them so fully by the very end of the novel and I just wish there’d be another book with these 2!!

You see how much they find a freedom with each other to escape the complex obstacles they are facing in their own lives, and how their relationship gives them courage to have faith in themselves and I loved that so much! ❤

Their dates we’re so cute ❤ ❤ From their first official date at the Village Vanguard to see Jazz music and just seeing how they shined and saw the world just a little bit brighter with each other.

Though their is a romance that develops, it definitely is not the core of this story! Its more about Dom & Ben themselves, how they grow, think about their futures, and who they want to be and I loved that so much!!

The way Champion crafted her other characters from Dom’s POV such as her mother, estranged father, her best friend Cass, all are all explored and crafted so wonderfully that their personalities shine throughout the entire book.

As for Ben, while I found his parents to not be as developed, his brother Milo, classmates Claire, Carter, music instructor Yaz, and many other characters, were explored with such depth as well!

Champion really crafted her characters with such heart and they were so incredibly real and really came to life!

What really stood out to me about Someday, Somewhere was definitely the eloquent writing! As the novel focuses on music, the emotionally impactful writing brings such a realness and beauty to the story that elevates the characters and story even more!

I truly adored the writing and found it effortlessly weaved itself to bring such life to the main characters Ben & Dom.

As for diversity, Dominique is biracial (1/2 white + Ecuadorian), her best friend Cass is gay & black, and her father, Reg, who’s Ecuadorian.

This novel also explores mental health (bipolar disorder)! Though the topic of mental health is weaved into the novel through Ben’s POV very subtly, it definitely becomes a more prominent aspect to the story nearing the last 50 pages or so, when we learn he does have bipolar disorder!

The way its explored, is seen through Ben’s actions and his inner thoughts.

I truly fell in love with this book and recommend it if your looking for an eloquent, moving, and character-driven YA Contemporary!

I suppose my only minor issues, were a few characters that weren’t really developed and the ending (from Ben’s POV) did feel a bit rushed.

However, I adored the ending! It was hopeful and left me very emotional. Champion’s story had me feeling so many things from joy, to heartache, sadness–so many things!

Someday, Somewhere is a deeply moving YA Contemporary, with main characters you’ll fall in love with! With elegant writing, impactful messages, unique plot, and an incredible cast of characters, Champion’s debut is an incredible and powerful read!

Highly recommend it!

May 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Here’s my wrap-up for May 2018! Now that I’m officially on summer break, I’m hoping to read + review more this month!! 

Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee1. Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee

ARC | Started April 28 + Finished May 10 |Rating:★★★★☆ | Out Of Left Field Full Review

Overall Thoughts: If your looking for a contemporary that doesn’t focus on romance, this is the book for you! Out Of Left Field is about Marnie as she takes the place of her best friend Cody on her high school baseball team after he gets injured. There’s such a big focus on the dynamic of friendship, life after college, + Marnie’s passion for baseball and I really loved that. The plot, in my opinion, just went in such unique directions compared to other YA Contemporary novels and continued to surprise me with very interesting plot twists! There’s also representation through the side characters (Filipino + Latinx & bisexual rep., Indian-American rep.). The pacing does get slow at some points & I wish that some of the main/side characters had more expansion + development, additionally there are some plot threads I wish could have been expanded on. However, overall Out Of Left Field is a uniquely plotted YA Contemporary that really focuses on its characters and the complex dynamics of friendship! Definitely recommend Kris Hui Lee’s Out Of Left Field if your looking for more sports in YA Contemporary!

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo2. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Owned | Started May 11 + Finished May 13 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | The Way You Make Me Feel Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Having been a big fan of Goo’s previous novel, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, I knew I would be picking up, The Way You Make Me Feel. Clara is a bit of a troublemaker, so when she gets tasked with working on her father’s Korean-Brazilian fusion food truck w/ her school nemesis, she feels her perfect summer (w/ plans of visiting her mother) has come to an end! But, she soon finds herself changing and growing throughout the summer, making new friends, and maybe finding romance along the way. The development of family and the complex dynamic was developed so incredibly well in this book as was the friendship! The Way You Make Me Feel was a book that captured my heart from page 1 with its character-driven story, wonderful writing, and summer adventures! The Way You Make Me Feel is a must read for summer!

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter3. Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Library | Started May 16 + Finished May 19 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Not If I Save You First Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers another political thriller, with a mystery that keeps you turning the page as the stakes continue to build! Maddie, daughter to a secret service agent and Logan, the president’s son, have been friends since they were little. However after an attack at the White House when they were 10, leads Maddie to stay off the grid for almost 6 years in the Alaskan wilderness alongside her father. Maddie & Logan are soon reunited and their friendship is no longer what it used to be, yet when its revealed someone may be after Logan, they have to team up and uncover the answers. Carter does a fantastic job at seamlessly integrating politics and mystery within her novels and I always look forward to reading her books! However, through out Not If I Save You First I felt the pacing was pretty slow and while the build up to the mystery was done incredibly well, when answers are revealed it felt not only rushed, but a bit disappointing in its execution. Additionally,there was a bit of repetitiveness when it came to the setting. Overall though, Not If I Save You First was definitely an entertaining mystery thriller that really kept me turning the page!

Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine4. Driving By Starlight by Anat Deracine

ARC| Started May 21 + Finished May 22 |Rating:★★★★★ |Driving By Starlight Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Driving By Starlight has easily become another one of my all-time favorite novels and is one that I will never forget!! I haven’t seen a lot of buzz for Driving By Starlight, but if you haven’t read it, please do, its phenomenal!! Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia crafted an honest and moving YA Contemporary, which follows Leena & Mishail, who are no strangers to a bit of rebellion within their town. Due to strict laws however, they find themselves unsure of their futures as women within society. Leena dreams of attending university and studying law, but with the absence of her father (who is a rebel), needing to take care of her mother, and not wanting to leave her friends/life behind, its becoming uncertain whether she will be able to follow her dreams. Over the course of the novel, Leena goes through quite a journey! From the powerful messages, themes of family & friendship explored with such depth, incredible cast of characters, thought-provoking & beautiful writing, Deracine’s novel is phenomenal! There’s honestly so much to this amazing novel I can’t put into words, but I highly recommend reading Driving By Starlight, its a must read!

caraval-by-stephanie-garber5. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Library |Started May 23 + Finished May 26 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Caraval Full Review

Overall Thoughts: I’d been putting off reading Caraval because of all the hype, but I’d recently been fortunate enough to get an ARC of Legendary and felt I’d give it a try! I’m so glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it! Garber’s writing easily pulled me into the story and crafted mystery into her novel so well, as we follow Scarlett attempting to find her sister throughout Caraval. Garber’s novel surprised me in ways I wasn’t expecting and I really enjoyed it. I did find that the repetitiveness of color to describe setting/emotion didn’t really click with me and I found other than Caraval, the world-building wasn’t really expanded on either, & I was expecting a bit more from the ending. However, I was definitely more surprised by Caraval than I expected and found it to be an immersive, mystery adventure!

Legendary by Stephanie Garber6. Legendary by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #2)

ARC |Started May 28 + Finished May 30 |Rating:★★★★☆ |Legendary Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Legendary takes what you knew in Caraval and really makes it more of a mind game, which was very interesting! Following Tella, were back into the game of Caraval, but there are very much real-life stakes involved. I loved how Garber seamlessly weaved in the fantasy elements, however all throughout Legendary I was thinking ‘why wasn’t this introduced more in Caraval?’, but I’m glad it was added into the story! Garber introduces new settings and a character by the name of Jacks who I really loved! It takes a bit of a darker, more fairy tale vibe, but I really enjoyed it! The plot is filled with intrigue, magic, mythology of the world of Caraval, and really had me guessing & on the edge of my seat wondering where the next book is headed!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #11

The Last 8 Cover Reveal

Author Interview w/ Maura Milan about her upcoming novel Ignite The Stars

Plans For June:

~ Catch up on reading, now that I’m officially on summer break & work on my summer reading bullet journal!

~Post upcoming TBR lists/other posts that I’ve had drafted for a while! 😂✨📚

~Planning to hopefully create + share another Literary Listens post! 🎙✨💕