We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal Review

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah FaizalWe Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Sands of Arawiya #1)

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date: May 14, 2019

Pages: 480

Available Through The Book Depository: We Hunt The Flame

Summary: People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut that has been highly anticipated and one you don’t want to miss! From the expansive world of Arawiya, intriguing plot, and wonderfully developed cast of characters, Faizal’s debut takes the reader on an epic fantasy adventure!

Told through dual POV, We Hunt The Flame follows Zafira, known as the Hunter, and Nasir, prince of Arawiya who goes by the title of the Prince Of Death (essentially the kingdom’s assassin!).

Zafira hunts for her people disguised as a boy in Demenhur, which is a kingdom cursed with eternal snow. She hunts within the Arz, a forest of encapsulating darkness– while many have become lost within it, she always finds her way back!

Nasir is the ever-loyal assassin for his father (the sultan) and goes across the kingdom getting rid of those who undermine his father’s rule. He believes he will forever be cursed with a life of darkness and because of that, keeps himself isolated from the world.

Their stories become intertwined when their confronted with a mission that takes them to a mysterious island with magic no one has seen for close to a century!

I loved the entire first part of this story–introducing us to the world of Arawiya through both of our main characters in their natural elements: Zafira having hunted a deer in the Arz and Nasir, assassinating a man suspected of treason against the kingdom.

These lines from Zafira & Nasir’s opening chapters will forever be remembered in my mind anytime I think of We Hunt The Flame:

People lived because she killed…People died because he lived…

What I loved about those lines is how much they tell us about them as characters before their stories even begin! Zafira is the kind of person who always puts others before herself. Although she has her own desires & wishes, she never chooses to act on them–only on what she feels will make everyone else around her safe or happy!

Nasir has been raised to kill and is continually put in situations where he wants to show his loyalty to his father. But, he does it even knowing his father will never be proud–with that, he uses that as a shield to isolate himself from the kingdom he will be destined to rule. Luckily, he does have general Altair by his side (though Nasir begs to differ XD).

This is a debut that surprised me in so many ways and had so many elements I loved–not only the main characters, but also the expansive world, magic system, character dynamics, and intriguing plot!

Nasir and Zafira’s mission has been spurred by a mysterious entity who calls herself, The Silver Witch. Their mission promises the return of magic to their world, even if it means braving this mysterious island where the magic is wild and unexpected.

Another element to the world that I loved was that although their world has been free of magic for quite sometime, you can still sense its presence in the kingdom itself and that’s because of Faizal’s writing– it creates such vivid settings, imagery, and delivers a sense of wonder! There wasn’t a single moment where I was ever pulled out of the story! The lush prose delivers a balance to its characters, world, atmosphere, and dialogue in such a great way!

Their both tasked with finding the Jawarat, the mythical book that bring magic back to their land. But, in addition to that–Nasir is given another task to kill anyone who can get in the way (Altair included) and the Hunter!

As the story progresses where Nasir & Zafira finally meet– truths come to light and their forced to stick together if their going to find the book!

There’s also a very present/relevant theme of identity throughout the book that is explored so well between them! Both Nasir & Zafira face truths about their identity and when they are presented with new info that changes what they first believed about themselves! I felt it really showed how much depth there was to them to see the many differing sides to them not just throughout their journey, but also through them as characters–we see their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerable moments which really surprised me!

There’s also themes of grief and loss explored throughout as well!

As for other characters, I loved the ensemble dynamics explored! Firstly with Zafira in her home village, with her sister Lana, friends Yasmine & Deen! Next it was Nasir & Altair–their dynamic/banter was the best and easily a highlight of the book!

I also find the exploration of past/current love isn’t always explored in YA Fantasy between main characters–but We Hunt The Flame really highlighted that & it was so well developed (Zafira w/ Deen & Nasir w/ Kulsum). I loved how they also symbolized the thread to their previous lives before coming to the island of Sharr.

As Zafira, Nasir, & Altair find themselves working together we also get introduced to a couple of new characters on the island:  Kifah, & Benyamin!! I loved learning more about them and found them to be such wonderfully developed characters + additions (who do get introduced mid-way through WHTF).

Overall the main crew/characters were just too precious & have to be protected at all costs!! I loved them a lot!! (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)❤

Additionally, the way Faizal used dual POV was fantastic–it offered so much to so many different elements of the story from the atmosphere, expansive world, characters, etc. The character-dynamics were also so good, not once did I feel certain characters were forgettable or lacked depth!

When talking about the world, the contrast to the setting of the frozen lands & deserts (Demenhur vs. Sarasin) were so vivid and I could picture both of them perfectly! Even the element of the forest of darkness, The Arz, was something special that really brought the setting to life & made it sparkle.

Now onto what made me rate this a 4–though rating aside, I really loved this book and the ending left on a note where I was in shock, but SO ready to read the sequel! (I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year!!). Those last few chapters–just WOW!!

Honestly, I do think that the pre-release hype had my expectations really high for We Hunt The Flame and overall my personal expectations too. I was so ready for the Assassins Creed elements to shine more throughout the book (though they were really present within Part 1) and it definitely switched gears as the story progressed– I was disappointed, but that’s only because I wanted more–I loved reading the chapters where Nasir traveled throughout the kingdom as an assassin & seeing Zafira brave enough to trek through the Arz as she outran guards!!

I did feel that because the writing is very character-focused, the plot (mainly surrounding the Sharr storyline) felt like it wandered a bit and I was hoping for more of the over-arching plot to be explored for a larger part of those chapters instead of being left to the last chunk of chapters.

Also, for me personally, I felt Nasir & Zafira’s defining characteristics (being the Assassin/Hunter) got a bit lost as the story progressed (mainly with Nasir) and I was hoping for their personas to be more of a focused part of their character that was present throughout the whole book (Hopefully that makes sense?).

But overall, like I said above there were so many wonderful and fantastic elements to We Hunt The Flame that really left this book as a memorable and favorite read of mine for sure! I can’t wait to see whats next in the sequel!!

We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut inspired by ancient Arabia that takes the reader on an immersive, magical adventure! Faizal’s debut is an atmospheric fantasy tale that delivers such a vivid world, fantastic cast of characters, important themes woven throughout, and plenty of action! We Hunt The Flame is debut that will leave you wanting the sequel right away when you turn that final page!

I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger review 😍💞📚 I recommend checking out:

We Hunt The Flame Review from Lila over at HardcoverHaven121

As an Own-Voices reviewer for Arab rep., she talks about the diverse geography of the Middle East and how accurate the setting of Arawiya was for her when listening to We Hunt The Flame on audio! She also loved how the novel showcased so many different aspects of Arab culture, such as language!

She also loved the rich prose that Faizal crafted within her novel (which I loved too!!). Though it wasn’t a perfect rating for her, I loved how she expanded on the different points in her review and her thoughts on it from the audiobook perspective!

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Book Blog Discussion: 2017 Wrap-Up

Happy Holidays!! 😄🎄🎉 Wow 2017 really flew by and I can’t believe 2018 is actually here already!~

This past year really was big for me both personally and for my reading/book blogging~

So today I’ll be sharing some bookish stats/accomplishments with you about reading, book blogging, etc. that I reached in 2017!

1.Books Read In 2017

Originally I planned to set a goal for at least 15 books (mentioned in my 2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals} post)

Its a pretty reasonable goal I’m planning to set for myself each year and I’m happy to have accomplished it by completing:

72 Books 🎉📚📚

There were so many fantastic books I read this year! Ones that took me on grand adventures, made me cry, smile, etc.! While there are more to add to this list, here are just some of the 2017 books that truly stuck with me throughout the year or whenever I read them + are ones that constantly come to mind, when I think about my 2017 reading as a whole! These books are ones that truly captured my heart & I hope, if you haven’t read them, my reviews inspire you to pick them up too:

wintersong-by-s-jae-jonesWintersong by S. Jae Jones

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker

A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Full Book Review To Come)

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle MilanesThe Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Also mentioned in my 2017 Bookish Goals post, I really wanted to make more of an effort to read more diversely and just promote diverse books more!

With that said out of the 72 books I read, 31 of them were either written by authors of color or #OwnVoices books!

I know I can definitely push myself to read even more diversely in 2018 & really want to continue to do so! I already have back-list 2017 titles from #OwnVoices or authors of color I cannot wait to read 😄📚✨💕~

2.Book Blogging Accomplishments

In the 2 years I started 24hrYABookBlog, I never expected to make new friends and just have my blog grow to where it is now!

I’m so grateful to have gotten to know and even meet such inspiring book bloggers  through social media/blogging or even in person through book events!

That has definitely been one of the highlights of 2017! 😍💕📚

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-banner3.Blog Features

One of my newest and most favorite blog features I expanded on in 2017 was Literary Listens! If you’ve never read/heard of it, its basically a blog feature where I discuss books and podcasts! 😍🎙📚

Its a blog feature I always have so much fun writing for and definitely hope to continue with it, this new year!

I also drafted new blog features around the last few months of the year & I hope to share them in the coming months!

4.Misc. Bookish Accomplishments

There were such memorable bookish accomplishments I achieved in 2017! Some were unexpected & took me completely by surprise!

~Creating my very 1st Bookish Vlog (for Yallwest)/ Doing my very first interviews with authors! 😭💕📚📹

~Adding more books to my ARC collections! ( One definitely includes Rebel Of The Sands)

~Holding my first ARC Giveaway 

~Being contacted by a publisher to review a finished copy of an anticipated book release

~Getting my first package of unsolicited books from publishers (Never thought this would happen in 2017!!)

~Reviewing/receiving more ARCs! With some of my biggest surprises being S. Jae-Jones Shadowsong + Marie Lu’s Warcross

AND:  Reaching 200+ blog followers & 1k+ on twitter! 😭💕📚

5. Most Popular Book Blog Posts

Out of the over 90 book blog posts I created this past year, here are some that had the most views:

Life After Legend by Marie Lu Review

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Fall}

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Winter}

Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia Review

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations Based On YA Books {Sci-Fi}

What were your 2017 Bookish Accomplishments or stats? Whether it be for reading, book blogging, etc.!

Any you hope to reach in 2018? 😁📚✨🎉

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations Based On YA Books

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

Its a blog feature I always have fun writing about & my hope is to introduce readers to cool new podcasts!

You can also check out my most recent feature, which was “Publishers and Podcasts” where I discussed TorLabs and speculated how Young Adult and Teen publishers could incorporate podcasts into their publishing!

Today I will be recommending and pairing up some Audio Drama Podcasts with Young Adult Science-Fiction Books!

YA Sci-Fi is a genre is a genre I’m just starting to get into, but hopefully the recs. I share today inspire you to pick up the books or podcasts mentioned!

Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza Cover Reveal 20171.If You’ve Read: Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza OR Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland + Michael Miller

Listen To: The Strange Case Of Starship Iris

Why:They feature rag-tag crews as they chart across space! All 3 are very character-driven and have such unique and immersive worlds/world-building!

Shadow Run  Cover RevealShadow Run + Starship have a fantastic group/squad dynamic that will have you rooting for them even in the wackiest situations!

Additionally, there’s diversity both in the novels + podcast!

~Empress: Features a predominantly diverse cast (Filipino + Black characters)

~Shadow Run: Features POC main/side characters + gender-fluid and gay representation

The Strange Case Of Starship Iris~Starship: Features a w/w relationship/romance, nonbinary, Chinese and Indian MC’s/representation

Summary: In 2189, Earth narrowly won a war against extraterrestrials. The Strange Case of Starship Iris is about what comes after. It’s a story of outer space, survival, espionage, resistance, identity, friendship, found family, romance, and secrets.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada2. If You’ve Read: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Listen To: The Elysium Project

Why: Both heavily feature science, scientist parents, genetics in a near-futuristic U.S., and have tons of action/adventure!

The fascinating characters, world, and world-building will have you hooked from the very beginning! They are very plot-driven The Elysium Projectstories and will keep you guessing as to what’ll happen next!

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

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan3.If You’ve Read: No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Listen To: The Bright Sessions

Why: Both feature groups of people with superpowers/supernatural abilities and have great diverse representation in their casts of characters (POC, anxiety rep., characters with different sexualities)

The Bright SessionsSummary: Dr. Bright provides therapy for the strange and unusual; their sessions have been recorded for research purposes. The show documents these patients’ struggles and discoveries as well as the motivations of their mysterious therapist, Dr. Bright.

If your looking for more space podcasts, definitely consider checking out, Girl In Space! Its a fairly new podcast with 4 episodes out and it has Girl In Space Podcasteasily become one of my favorites! The writing and plot are absolutely incredible! I highly recommend it (´▽`ʃƪ)♥♥~

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

If you’ve read any of the books mentioned or have suggestions for other YA Sci-Fi titles that would go along with any of these podcasts, definitely leave a comment!

Additionally, if you’ve listened to any of the podcasts mentioned, are planning to, or have other sci-fi podcast recommendations, lets discuss in the comments!  😄🎙✨

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Fall}

Diverse YA Books To Add To Your TBRBack in January I made a post sharing Diverse Books for a Winter TBR where I shared books releasing that season which featured YA Books by authors of color, #OwnVoices, had LGBTQIA+ characters, or featured characters of color! Sadly I didn’t make one for Spring + Summer as I’d been planning to, but in 2018 I will definitely make an effort to do a list for each season~

Now I will share with you the diverse books coming out/already released this Fall that I’m super excited to read (or one’s I’ve already read & Loved! <3)  that you should add to your TBR if you haven’t already!

Similar to the first post, they’ll be categorized by genre + release date~

I’m hoping to put as many as I can, however if there are any YA Books I’ve missed or one’s that you’ve recently heard of, definitely leave a comment below so others can add it to their tbr too!

Contemporary

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera1.They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Harper Teen

Summary: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins2.You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Summary: Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes3.The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes

The Victoria In My Head ARC Review

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary: 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.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman4. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

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

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

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta5. Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary: Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo6. A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers

Summary: The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos7. Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Summary: In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone8. Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Crown BYR (Random House)

Summary: Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez9. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Knopf BYR (Random House)

Summary: Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal? 

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani10. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

Release Date: October 24, 2017

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Summary: Taja Brown lives with her parents and older brother and younger sister, in Houston, Texas. Taja has always known what the expectations of her conservative and tightly-knit African American family are—do well in school, go to church every Sunday, no intimacy before marriage. But Taja is trying to keep up with friends as they get their first kisses, first boyfriends, first everythings. And she’s tired of cheering for her athletic younger sister and an older brother who has more freedom just because he’s a boy. Taja dreams of going to college and forging her own relationship with the world and with God, but when she falls in love for the first time, those dreams are suddenly in danger of evaporating. 

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga11. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Balzer +Bray

Summary: Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Fantasy

Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao1.Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (Rise Of The Empress #1)

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Philomel Books

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi2Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Publisher: Razorbill

Summary: In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life. 

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne3. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Summary: A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

Magical Realism

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore1.Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty ARC Review

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Summary: Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry2. All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry

All The Wind In The World Book Review

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Summary: Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

Science Fiction

Warcross by Marie Lu1. Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

Warcross ARC Review 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 12, 2017

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.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh2.Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Publisher: Lee & Low Books (Tu Books)

Release Date: September 14, 2017

Summary: After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Historical Fiction

The Girl Wth The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke1. The Girl With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Publisher: Albert Whitman Company

Release Date: September 1, 2017

Summary: When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process. 

Warcross by Marie Lu ARC Review

Warcross by Marie LuWarcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Pages: 368

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.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: This action-packed masterpiece is filled with intrigue, phenomenal setting, characters, and plot, Warcross immerses you from page 1!

I flew through this book in less than a day and want to go back and read it all over again!😭✨

Everything, from the world to plot, characters, etc. that Marie Lu constructed was absolute genius!~😭❤️❤️

Warcross was a novel I went into with super high expectations, b/c obviously its Marie Lu (one of my all-time favorite authors) + I love video games/gaming! So its pretty obvious I was stoked about this book and it did not disappoint!

From the very beginning you are transported to this bright, colorful and intriguing story following Emika (Emi) Chen. She catches criminals for a living and is a brilliant hacker.

With her father having passed away, absentee mother, and one else to care for her, Emika works as a bounty hunter for the police to just get by. The novel starts off with her tracking down a gambler in the streets of Manhattan.

With the wide-spread popularity and accessibility of Warcross, rules are set up by the government to prevent players from gambling through it. And Emika finds herself catching these gamblers, among other people who use Warcross illegally!

However the hunt doesn’t go quite as planned and she doesn’t walk away with the money she needs. With roughly $13 left to her name, she’s unsure of what to do. To make matters worse, she has an eviction notice on the apartment she shares with her roommate Keira. With all the stress she’s under, to escape the real world for a little, she enters Warcross.

But after hacking herself into Warcross, she finds herself becoming an overnight celebrity and gets a call from Hideo Tanaka, her childhood idol + creator of Warcross!

Then, she’s headed to Tokyo to meet Tanaka because as it turns out, he needs her help as a bounty hunter to spy on this year’s Warcross tournament! Not only to find out about a hacker infiltrating the game, but also put an end to whatever they may be planning.

There is so much heart to this novel and you can clearly see it through Marie’s writing + Emika’s POV with the vibrant world building, clever gaming references (that I definitely picked up on), plot, setting, dialogue, everything!!

Another aspect of the world I really loved, was the futuristic tech introduced which had the ability to translate different languages, among other things and just seeing the impact of this technology on so many people was fascinating!~

Marie really brings the game of Warcross to life and after finishing this book, I wish it was real! 😭✨🕹🎮❤️💛💜

The plot itself goes in directions I was not expecting and there is so much intrigue, mystery, action/adventure and Marie balances all those aspects perfectly!

I loved all the characters equally and loved that there was tons of diversity in this novel! There’s a character who is in a wheelchair, and characters who are Latinx, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, and gay representation!

My only minor issue, was that I wanted Emika to interact a little more with the side characters, because they were all written so wonderfully and I just really wanted to know more about them.

Because this book doesn’t come out for another month or so, I really want to avoid spoilers, but yes it was phenomenal!

It even pulled me out of my reading slump! The story was fun, fast-paced and just AMAZING!~ ❤

After turning the final page, you’ll be wishing Warcross was real! This fun, fast-paced, action-packed adventure with intrigue, phenomenal character-development and world-building is not one to miss!

+ Keep an eye out on the blog (around release day) for a Warcross Reading Playlist! 😍✨🎧📚

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan Review

No More Heroes by Michelle KanNo More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing

Release Date: June 27, 2015 (Feb. 2017 for 2nd edition)

Pages: 265

Summary: The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they’re going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young, would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of. Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: This action-packed and character-driven urban fantasy, follows a diverse cast of characters who have superpowers! No More Heroes is a tale about friendship and what it means to be a hero!

No More Heroes had me hooked from page 1! Vigilantes (or those who use their Abilites to protect the City) mysteriously seem to be getting killed off 1 by 1!

A group of teen Vigilantes: Clare, Linus, and Mallory (who are fairly new to it), become involved when they rescue Vigilantes (Shockwave +Resonance) from a burning building!

Resonance tells them more about what Vigilantes do, but to stay safe!

Over the course of the novel, Linus, Clare, and Mallory become more involved in this mystery of surrounding the Vigilantes. They soon join Shockwave, Resonance (much to her dismay), and a few other Vigilantes as they uncover more behind who could be behind these attacks.

This novel really put a focus on character development and I loved that so much! There is also so much representation, which is amazing!

There’s Samoan representation (Linus), Chinese (Resonance aka Fang), Indian, Maori+ Cambodian rep.! Also characters who have ADHD (Clare) and anxiety (Resonance). There was also characters who identify as aro-ace, gay and genderfluid!

I also really felt connected to Resonance as it gets mentioned that she has anxiety! As the novel progressed, I picked up on certain actions/moments that showed Resonance’s anxiety, but no matter what she pushed on and continued to be a strong leader, despite it! Even when she encountered some obstacles along the way,  she was so brave and so determined to keep her friends safe!

With the mystery that surrounds who’s been killing off the Vigilantes, I was surprised when it gets revealed! Kan did a great job at keeping the element of mystery present throughout the story!

As for world building I found it to be so unique. The novel takes place in the City, a fictional city that has numerous skyscrapers, buildings, etc. and has a mainly cool/foggy weather. It was fascinating and with night being a big element of the setting I felt it really added to the mysterious tone of the story! Continuing with the world building, I also loved the explanation for why Vigilantes mainly work at night-time/evening (b/c a theory suggests that the night enhances Abilities). It was an additional little tidbit of info, but for me it added much more to the knowledge of Abilities and above all the direction Kan took with superpowers/abilities was so unique!

+ I really loved Clare’s ability (being able to travel through fog) it was so unique and I loved learning more about it!

Also if your looking for a novel with no romance, this is the book for you! No More Heroes really focused on its characters + story and friendship was a theme present throughout the whole novel.

I loved the friendship/dynamic between Clare, Linus & Mal so much ❤ ❤ (+ Shockwave/Resonance)!!  Its clear from the very beginning that they are all looking out for one another and have each other’s backs! While I really loved Clare + Linus’s dynamic, it would have been great to get more between Mal + Clare too, but I loved their dynamic all the same!

As the story progressed, there was also expansion on some of the older/ more experienced Vigilante’s motives which touched upon some characters showing morally grey sides/elements of antihero and that really added another layer of depth to these characters who already had so many differing sides to them.

While I am usually pretty hesitant with 3rd person narration, Kan did a fantastic job! It really helped to expand on the large cast of characters and overall went perfectly with the story! I do hope for future novels there is more development + expansion on the characters! I really loved each of them, but felt I needed to known so much more about them~

As to why I took off 1/2 a star: I wish there was more description/expansion on the City! Its such a fascinating setting and it would have been great to get more development + same goes for the characters (as mentioned above)! I adored them and felt they were all so unique & amazing, I just wanted to learn more about them~ ❤

With the way the novel wraps up, it sets up for a great sequel! I’ve read online that there is another novel in the works and I’m so happy about that b/c I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to these characters and the fascinating world just yet! :’)

No More Heroes is a perfect read if your looking to get into urban fantasy or really love stories about superheroes! This novel is filled with diverse characters, action, perfectly planned mysteries, fantastic character dynamics, emphasis on friendships and above all a fun and fascinating plot that will keep you turning the page!

Lucky In Love by Kasie West ARC Review

Lucky In Love by Kasie WestLucky In Love by Kasie West

Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Pages: 333

Summary: In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —


She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

*Got ARC from a festival*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Lucky In Love is a fun+ fast-paced YA Contemporary that follows Maddie as her life changes when she wins the lottery!

I read my first Kasie West book last year, P.S. I Like You and absolutely loved it! So, of course I was super excited to read her next novel Lucky In Love! ❤ 

Maddie is a planner and focused on school, prepping for college and hoping she gets into her dream university! She loves her job at the zoo and hanging out with Seth Nguyen ❤

However, her family’s finances are quite tight. It causes quite a bit of problems, with her parents getting into arguments + her brother still having debt.

And her birthday doesn’t go quite as planned! Her best friends Blaire+ Elise had other responsibilites, her parents continue to argue about finances, among other academic/financial anxieties, she decides to head to her local mini-mart!

When she wins $30 million after getting a lottery ticket there later in the evening, her life changes! She can now pay for college, support her family, and so much more, yet it comes with some downsides.

I loved the discussion/inclusion of financial struggles that people face + how it can impact a family!

Once Maddie wins the money, one of the popular girls at school, Trina is recommending she should splurge and have fun! Trina had good intentions, but I felt it just caused problems for Maddie.

While I understand Maddie being overwhelmed with the money she’s just received, I couldn’t help but be frustrated with her at times too b/c she blindly followed what people wanted /expected her to do with her own money (like paying more than she needed to for a car + buying other expensive things she knew she didn’t really want)!!

The whole time I was like: “No dummy \0/ don’t listen to them! Just do what you think is best!!”

Her parents were recommending her to get a financial adviser + friends recommending her to spend wisely, but no one really helped her go through with it, so she was left making decisions on her own. She was not being guided at all, which led to many of her problems!

Her friends were by her side, as novel progresses, but she (mainly towards the middle/end but gets resolved <3) finds they aren’t making time for her and believe she’s changed. So, Maddie finds herself hanging out with Trina more.

It made sense cause she felt her friends were abandoning her, however it just caused me to be more frustrated b/c Trina would keep telling her how she should spend her money and Maddie, a majority of the time just followed what she or others would say.

Well aside from that, I really loved the romance! It’s clear that Maddie has a crush on Seth and I loved their adorable banter/friendship throughout the novel! + It was great to read more diversity in Wests’s books! (Vietnamese rep. + exploring the impact of finances)

While it may seem that this novel is romance heavy, it really isn’t! It really focuses on Maddie and her journey with her lottery win + school + college, etc!

I understood when Maddie felt the need to not tell Seth about her lottery win, with all that was happening, it made sense, yet I completely understood when she felt guilty about it too! With their friendship continuing to grow, she felt she wasn’t being fully honest.

In addition to the adorable romance + while I was a little frustrated with some of her decisions sometimes :’) Overall reading from Maddie’s pov was great! She was so kind + trusting (even if there were times it got her into financial issues)! I felt connected to her character + just wanted her to finally understand what the best decision was for her + her lottery money.

She was very focused in her schoolwork & getting into college but also wants the best for her family now that she’s won the lottery, but even when the money caused her some troubles/issues along the way, she kept moving forward! However, she learns to focus more on herself and what she wants in life and put herself first more often (whether it has to do with college, her money, or other things).

While it may seem like I was pretty frustrated with this book 😂 Overall I really enjoyed it! ✨🍀💕

Lucky In Love is a perfect YA Contemporary if your looking for a fast-paced and fun read! Following Maddie and her lottery win, there are themes of family, friendship, finding one’s self + the perfect mix of romance!
Definitely recommend checking this book out!