A Spark of White Fire, by Sangu Mandanna || Complex families, political schemes, & interstellar awesomeness (& a giveaway)


Title: A Spark of White Fire
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Copy: Physical ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

Review:

Despite being heavily influenced by the ancient epic Mahabharata and other Indian lore, there is nothing quite like Mandanna’s latest novel – A Spark of White Fire is an absolutely unique, genre-defying gamechanger in YA. I’ll admit that I have never read the Mahabharata (although after reading this novel, I definitely plan to eventually get to it) so I don’t know how much material was adopted in the story. Nonetheless, by the end of it all, A Spark of White Fire is truly an incomparable gem of a space opera.

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500 Words or Less, by Juleah del Rosario || A verse novel with heart-wrenching dysphoria & untapped potential (& a giveaway)


Title: 500 Words or Less
Author: Juleah del Rosario
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Poetry
Copy: Digital ARC
Rating:

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Review:

To put it quite bluntly, I have a lot of mixed feelings about 500 Words or Less, especially when in relation to the expectations that I had before diving in. After learning that Juleah del Rosario is a Filipino author, I was incredibly excited to read her debut novel told in verse (being a Filipino myself and all that). I’ve only read one verse novel before — The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, which I ended up thoroughly enjoying. However, for me, 500 Words or Less seemed to pale in comparison.

500 Words or Less follows a Chinese-American girl who cheated on her now-ex-boyfriend with his best friend and, in doing so, lost her relationship and severely tainted her reputation in school. In an attempt to save face among her peers, Nic capitalizes on her writing skills and begins offering her fellow senior students to write their college admissions essays for them.

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Reign of Mist, by Helen Scheuerer || The future of YA fantasy is unapologetically female (& a giveaway)


Title: Reign of Mist
Author: Helen Scheuerer
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Copy: Paperback
Rating:

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Synopsis:

The realm’s darkest secret is out.

The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents.

On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak’s friends are forced to decide where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.

But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.

Review:

Recently, I wrote about 10 things a reader can expect from Helen Scheuerer’s highly anticipated release, Reign of Mist, which is the second installment in The Oremere Chronicles. It really isn’t a secret that I’m a huge, huge fan of the world and the characters that Helen has created – especially if we take into consideration the frequency and intensity at which I recommend this high fantasy series (i.e. all the time and ALWAYS IN ALL CAPS).

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Mirage, by Somaiya Daud || This could be the sci-fi enemies-turned-lovers Sapphic romance we deserve (& a giveaway)


Title: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Copy: Digital ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty–and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Review:

If I’m being totally honest, a lot of my expectations weren’t met – and I mean that in the best possible way. Somaiya Daud’s #OwnVoices, Moroccan-inspired dystopian debut novel delivered in a myriad of ways I never could have foreseen. Although I was expecting a thrillingly paced, adventure-filled narrative with incredibly high stakes and hard-hitting action, I found myself easily entranced by Daud’s wonderfully lush prose and charming cast of diverse characters.

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Wildcard, by Marie Lu || Wildly unpredictable in a ‘what is this hot mess’ kind of way.


Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Copy: ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

Review:

It’s no secret that Wildcard, which is the second and final installment of Marie Lu’s Warcross, is one of the most highly anticipated sequels of 2018. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I cannot scroll through the ‘#arcsfortrade’ and ‘#bookishwish’ hashtags without seeing this title at least 15 times. I’ve also read nothing but fervent praises and glowing reviews about Wildcard, so it basically sucks that I’m here to burst some people’s bubble with a strongly contradictory take: Wildcard is, in my opinion, so many kinds of awful that I don’t even know where to begin.

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Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes, by Holly Bourne || Mental health, important messages, & mixed feelings + GIVEAWAY


Title: Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Copy: ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:

Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for the new friends she never expected to make – who each have their own reasons for being there. Luckily Olive has a plan to solve all their problems. But how do you fix the world when you can’t fix yourself?

Review:

I have only read two of Holly Bourne’s novels so far (the first one being It Only Happens in the Movies), and I love how she seamlessly incorporates her advocacies for social change into her works in a manner that doesn’t sideline them; rather, these ideas and messages are carefully placed front, center, and with just the right amount of in-your-face. Are We Lemmings & Snowflakes is not any different in that regard; at its heart, this contemporary novel thoughtfully and sensitively explores mental health.

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Not the Girls You’re Looking For, by Aminah Mae Safi || Unapologetically messy. Beautifully diverse.


Title: Not the Girls You’re Looking For
Author: Aminah Mae Safi
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Copy: Digital ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

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