In book review

REVIEW: Nocturna

Title: Nocturna
Author: Maya Motayne
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: April 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭,5/5

"Magic could not speak, yet interacting with it felt like a conversation, 
a dance, a story shared with a friend with the ending left up to interpretation."

2019 is just full of beautifully diverse fantasy releases, and Nocturna had been on my TBR since the beginning of the year. Imagine my delight when I received this book in one of my April subscription boxes (and this gorgeous special edition no less!) Of course I had to immediately dive into this book!

What is Nocturna about?
Set in a Latinx-inspired world, Nocturna centers around professional thief, Finn Voy, who uses magic to take on many faces but her own. But, when she is caught by a mobster, and the only way out is a heist of something valuable in the Castellan palace, she is faced with the danger of losing her magic forever. Finn teams up with prince Alfie, who is grieving the loss of his brother, and is desperately trying to find a way to get him back. However, the two of them accidentally unleash a horrific power, and, in order to contain it, Finn and Alfie are forced to work together. Will this unlikely alliance work?

“She'd always imagined the weight of someone's hand in her own to feel like an anchor, tugging her into a forced stasis when she only wanted to run, to be free. 
Yet now, she wanted nothing more than to stay. 
She felt more freedom in this moment than all her years combined. 
Freedom, she was coming to understand, could be found in a person instead of a place.”

What did I think of Nocturna?
Reading Nocturna was such a pleasant experience: I found that the writing and characters immediately pulled me in. The world-building was rich and the Latinx-inspired universe was very refreshing within the YA genre. I enjoyed the little Spanish phrases plastered about in the text, seamlessly switching between languages, as well as the non-white cast. That is right, all of the characters are latinx! 

The premise for both main characters is what initially drew me in. The concept of a face-stealing thief is very original. Her past abuse and trauma has resulted in her never wanting to look like herself again, which adds such a great layer to the character of Finn. I also like how versatile and dynamic she's portrayed. The way in which her confusion between the affection she seems to feel for Alfie and her usual apathetic side seems to conflict, and how she switches between 'Prince' and Alfie's name supplies yet another interesting tier. In addition, I also really liked Alfie as a character, which for me, isn't very surprising considering we know I have a thing for princes. Alfie's grief for his brother, and the issues he has with magic really made the character feel alive.

The witty dynamic between the two is reminiscent of Kell and Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic, but not overly so. (Also, I've seen a lot of ADSOM comparisons in previous reviews, but I feel that comparing books often sells them short, in the sense that essentially they are all their own universes and characters!). Additionally, it was refreshing to see the relationship between the two develop not too quickly. I've read a lot of fantasy debuts this year that featured a rapidly growing relationship (sometime too quickly). And, while that's not so much of a turn-off for me when it comes to books, I prefer the slowburn Motayne has going on between her characters! In the end, the characters and their interactions ended up being what made the book so enjoyable for me. 

Another interesting dynamic was the one between Finn and Ignacio, her previous father-figure/abuser who uses his magic to manipulate her into staying with him and acting like his 'daughter'. The fact the villain seems to have a close personal connection to the protagonist added that extra bit of dramatics, and made the villain a lot more interesting to read about. I find myself often bored when YA fantasy includes a very black-and-white two-dimensional villain, and while Ignacio seems to still be portrayed as pure evil, the fact that Finn has a connection to him made the stakes higher for readers of the story.

The plot in itself was interesting and I see where the writer wants to go. However, it sets up for a climax that unfortunately doesn't succeed when it comes to the height of its impact in this first book. The climactic events are resolved rather quickly, which was kind of a shame because, as a reader, you're anticipating more than you're essentially getting. Although, aside from this fact, the pacing of the book didn't feel either too rushed or too slow, and overall provided a very enjoyable reading experience. 

Motayne, then, has definitely captured my attention with these characters when it comes to future books in the series. The characters, setting and universe all promise great things for the sequel that is inevitably coming soon! 

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In blog tour

BLOG TOUR: The Candle and the Flame

Hello guys! The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad released ONE WEEK AGO! If you've checked out my review of this book, then you know I absolutely I adored it, but in case you still haven't had a chance to pick this up, now is the time! As part of the official Candle and the Flame Street Team, I'm here to tell you all about The Candle and the Flame!

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

Follow Nafiza:

The book features such an intricately crafted universe, gorgeous writing, and absolutely amazing characters. It's a stand-alone so it's perfect for a quick read, too. The Candle and the Flame really makes you think about social issues, and features a beautiful fantastical universe as well as some really interesting magic! It's absolutely amazing to read! The seamless blend of languages, cultures and magical elements makes this book truly one of a kind.

Creative Effort:
As part of the blog-tour, I designed some fan-made posters for the book. Check them out below! 

Order The Candle and the Flame NOW:

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In book review


Title: Defy Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: 2 April 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

MY FAVORITE YA FANTASY OF ALL TIME IS BACK! I've missed these characters so much, you guys. After Restore Me I wasn't sure how to survive a whole year without them, but I magically did. Defy Me has been out for a month (or even longer... yikes), so I figured it was high-time for my review of this fifth book in the Shatter Me series!

What is this book about?
Defy Me is part five in the well-loved Shatter Me series, and follows Juliette, Warner and Kenji after the end of Restore Me. Juliette is now Supreme Commander of America, but has been taken by her biological parents to aid in their original plan. The team has to get back together and pick up the pieces before it's all too late.

What did I think of Defy Me?
Now, it's no secret I tend to love most of what Tahereh writes. Every single novel I've read by her has been a 5-star read. From her fantasy to her contemporary ones, she can do no wrong for me. I love the way she develops characters, her writing style (especially the poetic one in Shatter Me), and the way she crafts stories. It's again no surprise that Defy Me formed no exception to this.

I absolutely adore all of these characters, the characters are mostly what make books for me, but my favorite ones are Juliette, Warner and Kenji. Kenji's POV, then, provided such a nice addition to this series. We've gotten a brief introduction to Kenji's thoughts in Shadow Me, but that book was too short. To be fair, it was only a novella. I ended up loving every minute of Kenji's POV in both Defy Me and Shadow Me, and if he wasn't already my favorite male character... ever, he would be by now. I really like how having his own perspective added a lot more depth to his character. How he's not just there for comic relief, but also has a lot of emotional layers underneath (I know opinions are divided on this book, but I loved him a lot!)

Juliette and Warner, too, really did it for me. This series has some of my favorite character development of ALL TIME, and getting to see Warner happy for once was a very welcome change. Also, can we talk about how ADORABLE that last chapter was... please. I know that there have been a lot of diverging opinions regarding this specific matter, but the relationship development between Warner and Juliette was very welcome for me. For people who plan to read this book but still haven't found the time: I won't spoil any major plot-points, but I personally thought that, especially considering the dystopian setting, the plot wasn't rushed at all.

I also quickly want to address Nazeera's character, because OH MY! She ended up being one of the highlights of the book for me. I will admit, I'm still not 100% set on her relationship with Kenji that seems to be a thing, which eyes very much like insta-lust at the moment, but it is such a joy to read her dialogue! I absolutely adore her and want an infinite amount of scenes with just her and Juliette... I need them to be BFF's.

In the end, the majority of the plot of Defy Me dealt with the repercussions of the last book, as well as setting up for the final instalment, which made this book kind of filler-y in my opinion. The first half was enjoyable, but not overly so, however, the last 100 pages are what made the book for me. The final part, including the infinite plot-twists, and crazy scenarios were nice, but the real magic happens during the emotional moments between certain characters.

Once again, I think Tahereh can do no wrong when it comes to writing and I love every single book she writes. From my perspective, Defy Me ended up doing the characters justice which is what is most important to me. All in all, the book provided a nice set-up for the finale, but at this point Tahereh could write them going to the supermarket for 25 chapters and I'd still give this five stars.


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In spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: Reasons Why You Should Be Reading We Hunt The Flame!

Hello hello! With only ONE day to go until this gorgeous book releases, it's high time for me to talk a little more about one of my most anticipated releases of the ENTIRE YEAR: We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal!

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.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Five reasons why you should be reading We Hunt the Flame:
Additionally to this amazing premise, here are five reasons why you should pick up WHTF!

One: The world-building!
We Hunt the Flame is inspired by old Arabia and is, subsequently an ownvoices novel! To be immersed in this rich universe featuring characteristics of this beautiful culture, as well as the Arabic terms used within the book is so so cool! The world-building in We Hunt The Flame is absolutely amazing, and is definitely one of the highlights of the book. It's like you're stepping right into Arawiya!

Two: the amazing female characters! 
That's right, this book features some very strong and well-written ladies. Without spoiling anything, Zafira, in particular, is one of my favorite characters in the book! I love how layered and empowering Hafsah's female characters are!

Three: The beautiful writing!
This book is filled to the brim with inspiring quotes and gorgeous descriptions. I absolutely adored the way this book was written. The writing style, the POV switch, and the seamless blending of Arabic phrases made this book such a unique experience!

 Four: Broody YA boyfriends!
This book contains some serious favorite character material. Not only are the ladies amazing, Nasir is fits perfectly into the brooding YA boyfriend category. He's insanely layered, morally grey and a little bit emo, so another perfect reason to pick up this book ASAP!

Five: Altair.
This man is a reason by himself.

How to get your hands on We Hunt the Flame:

Barnes & Noble

I wouldn't be me without having done some type of creative effort. Leading up to the release I've been creating some graphics over on my Tumblr/Twitter, so check out some of them below!

We Hunt The Flame releases Tuesday May 14 2019.

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In book review wrap up


Series Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult

"Welcome, welcome to Caraval! 
The grandest show on land or by sea. 
Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. 
You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. 
But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game."

This particular series has been sitting on my shelf for a good 2 years. I bought Caraval on a whim because it was on sale on Amazon at the time. Not because I was planning to read it anytime soon, no, just because I liked the cover. I finally decided to pick this up in an attempt to clear my bookshelf of unread books. And while I wasn't massively impressed by the first book (I ADORED the world-building in Caraval, but it wasn't majorly shocked by any of its content!), the second and third book SHOOK ME TO MY CORE. 

Book 1:
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

Book 2:
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

Book 3:
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. 
It's more than just a game or performance. 
It's the closest you'll ever find yourself magic in this world."

The premise of Caraval is such a difficult one to explain. Caraval follows two sisters, Tella and Scarlett, as they enter the game of Caraval. It's is an interactive show that blurs the lines between reality and fiction and is led by the mysterious game master Legend. Scarlett and Tella have dreamed of seeing a performance ever since they were little, but now that Scarlett is engaged by her abusive father to a man she's never met, she thinks she'll never get to see it. That is, until Tella manages to take Scarlett away from their home to witness the show of a lifetime. Only, as soon as they arrive, Legend kidnaps Tella and offers a prize to the first player who manages to find her. 

Let the game begin. 

What is this series about?
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? I thought the definite strong point of these books was the world-building. Whomever dreams about writing a Fantasy book someday wants their world to be as rich as this one. The universe, the writing, they were all magnificently executed. Caraval painted an exquisitely rich picture with all its elaborate descriptions and the lavish atmosphere. You either love it or hate it, but I thought Garber's writing was absolutely beautiful. This is what most of my rating for the first book: Caraval is based on. I can't say I was immediately pulled into the characters or the love story. Scarlett and Julian were certainly intriguing, but I found myself being drawn to the side characters a lot more.

And then there was Legendary. I went in absolutely blind with this one, so imagine my delight when I discovered that Legendary was written from Tella's POV and contained a LOT of one of my favorite characters: Legend. I'm not lying when I say that this book was probably my favorite of the whole month of April. Garber has a way of building her characters, especially Legend, that just stuck with me. I absolutely adored the intrigue, suspense and mystery that surrounded Legend's character. He has such an interesting and layered personality. Tella, too, was such a fun character to read about in her own POV. I'd loved her in Caraval, but her appearances in Legendary absolutely sealed the deal for me. Another interesting addition to the cast of characters was Jacks, the prince of Hearts. I'm not usually a fan of love-triangles (or ever), but both Jacks and Legend were such interesting characters that I truly found myself in dubio at times on whom I liked best. This book was my definite favorite within the series and I can honestly say that it's been a while since I've been this shook over a book. 

Now, as for Finale, this will remain a spoiler-free review, but all I can say when it comes to these books is that the conclusion to this series was satisfying. The dual POV between Tella and Scarlett in Finale worked really well, and made me love both characters more. The plot-twists, again, were very nicely executed and I didn't see most of them coming (keep in mind I went in completely blind when it came to all three of the books!) I really appreciated how the final book gave the audience an ending to be enjoyed, but also felt like there could be more of this universe in the future (I'm not sure that's the plan but there's definite space for more content within the universe!). 

All in all, I adored this series as a whole. The first book took some time to captivate me, but the world-building in this series is so exquisite and enchanting that it's hard not to fall in love with Caraval and Stephanie Garber's writing style. At this point, I only wish I'd read it sooner so I could've gotten some of the pretty merch boxes before the release of Finale. What a way to end a series and I'll definitely be reading more of Stephanie's books in the future. This was amazing. 

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