Blog Tour: In Deeper Waters // An Author Interview, Journal Spread and a Review!

Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you a blog tour stop of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens! Thank Turn The Page Tours for the lovely opportunity. On today’s agenda we have an author interview, a journal spread, and a review. So grab some popcorn, and let’s get into it!

Book Info

Title: In Deeper Waters

Author: F.T. Lukens

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

RELEASE DATE: April 20th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Historical, Fantasy, Romance

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781534480506

Synopsis

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel. Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean. That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Book Review

I received an advanced reader copy via Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The synopsis of In Deeper Waters sounded very promising, and I’m happy to report that the story really held up! It was easy to understand, and the world building was done incredibly well. There was no info dumping, nor was it written vaguely. The adventure was such a fun time too. I adored every minute of it!

The main characters where especially likeable. Tal was so nice and genuine. From the start I could tell I’d love him! Athlen was also very wholesome. At first, I wasn’t particularly fond of him. However, as the story progressed, I found myself absolutely adoring his character!

Moreover, the side characters where one of the best parts of the book! I love how each and every one of Tal’s siblings had their own distinct personalities. Kest was courageous and kind, much like Tal. On the other hand, Garret was spontaneous and outgoing. His sisters where also strong and resilient. Adding on to that, I really loved how In Deeper Waters contains such powerful women. From Tal’s bodyguard, to a fiery sea captain, women can do it all!

In addition, the dialogue was very heartwarming. I enjoyed reading Tal’s conversations with his siblings. They each had a special way of interacting, and it was just too cute! Athlen and Tal’s conversations where at times mysterious, and this only made me want to read more. However, the dialogue between all the characters where mostly joyous or emotional.

At first I couldn’t resonate much with the writing style. Third person writing is not my thing, but In Deeper Waters has changed my perspective on it. The writing was eccentric and fresh. It always had me at the edge of my seat! Furthermore, the talk about classism intrigued me quite a bit. It’s not something I see discussed much in historical fiction, so I’m glad it was mentioned.

The overall enjoyment level of In Deeper Waters is very high. It took a little while for me to be fully engrossed in the story, but once I got into it, the book was immensely enjoyable! All in all, this novel is an exceptionally refreshing read that’s perfect for spring! It’s the epic high fantasy you’ve been waiting for!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: Torture, violence, death

Final Rating: 9.5/10 or 4.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Journal Spread

Google very much distorted the quality of the image. 😢 Nevertheless, I still hope you like it.

Author Interview

1. I’m so happy to be holding this interview/blog tour stop with you today, it’s lovely to have you! Do you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

F.T. Lukens: Hi! I’m FT Lukens and I’m the author of In Deeper Waters. I am a lover of sci-fi and fantasy especially comedy and romance. I also love cryptozoology and superhero movies and television shows about magic.

Saniya: That’s very cool!

2. In Deeper Waters has an absolutely stunning cover! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process of creating it?

F.T. Lukens: It’s such a great cover! I was so happy when I saw the initial sketches. The artist, Sam Schechter, did a wonderful job of bringing Tal and Athlen to life in both their poses and expressions. I think there was maybe one change from the original sketch to the finished product and it was a small detail. The illustrator had captured them so perfectly from the start. Also, the colors are beautiful – the sunset on the water. It really screams fantasy romance. It’s the first illustrated cover I’ve had for a book and I adore it.

Saniya: That’s lovely! It truly is beautiful.

3. Do you have a favorite place to write? Or a specific writing routine?

F.T. Lukens: I actually don’t have a favorite place to write. I have a desk that is surrounded by art and Funko Pops and posters that I use the most often that is my creative space. Unfortunately, now that I work my day job from home, I sit at that desk for eight hours a day already. So sometimes I migrate to the couch or dining room table. As for writing routine, I write best when others are writing with me. It may sound weird, but if I have a writing partner then I achieve much more than just by writing alone. I love writing sprints. I love writing during NaNo. I love participating in a writing discord. It motivates me to see other succeeding and helps me see a project through to the finish.

Saniya: It’s so cool that you love writing with others!

4. What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?

F.T. Lukens: I’m not a spontaneous person. I thrive with routine and don’t like surprises, so I had to really think about this question. The best answer I could come up with is that I adopted a puppy a couple of years ago from a shelter on a whim. He was part of a litter of nine. They were born in November and were given the name of Santa’s reindeer. (His name was Prancer, but we renamed him Zuko.) I fell in love with his picture online and I sent in an adoption request and was approved. They told me he was a lab via email. When I went to pick him up… Reader, he was not a lab. He is a redbone coonhound which is definitely not a lab. He howls. He chases things. On our walks, his nose is always on the ground. He’s strong and lean and ready to run at all times. I still love him, and he’s mellowed out as he’s grown older, but wow that was a rough first year. LOL.

Saniya: Awww that sounds adorable~! I love the name Zuko too!

5. Is there a character in your new novel In Deeper Waters that you resonate with the most?

F.T. Lukens: Probably Tal. He is the fourth of five siblings and at the beginning of the novel, he’s unsure of his place in his family and in the world. I remember being that way when I was a teenager. I was the fourth of four myself and I was just hitting that awkward teenage phase while my siblings were all grown up and established, married, having kids, off at college etc. It was a weird space to be in where you feel both left behind because the people you’ve been raised with have moved on and have started creating their own lives and families, but also like you’re not ready to follow them.  

6. Do you have a favorite scene in In Deeper Waters

F.T. Lukens: I do! But it’s at the very end of the book so I don’t want to spoil it. But it was the scene that I was writing toward when developing the first draft. It was the scene that I’d come up with really very early on in the planning and writing of the book and it was both a joy and a relief when I was finally able to write it.

Saniya: I love every scene in the book, but I think I know which one you’re talking about. If I’m right, it’s my favorite one too. 🙂

7. Lastly, what is the main message you would like your readers to take away from the novel?

F.T. Lukens: I really hope that readers will just enjoy the book. I hope they can curl up with it and lose themselves in a fairy tale for a few hours and be happy. One of the main messages is about remaining kind in a world that’s not been kind to you while still standing up for yourself and your family when necessary. So I hope readers will take away some strength, and peace, and joy.

Saniya: This is such a beautiful message, I love it!

About The Tour

Tour Schedule Link!

Giveaway Information

Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) physical copy and ONE (1) digital copy of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. This giveaway will end on April 26th at 11:59 PM CST. The physical copy will be available to win by US residents only and the digital copy will be available to win by INTL residents only. To enter, click the link below!

RAFFLECOPTER LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d36/?

About The Author

F.T. Lukens is the author of four young adult novels published through Interlude Press, and her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. Visit her at FTLukens.com.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed this tour stop, because I had so much fun making it. Have a wonderful day, and stay safe! 💟

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners | A Review

Hey guys! Today I’ll be reviewing the lovely picture book; Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho. I hope you enjoy!

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners: Ho, Joanna: 9780062915627: Books - Amazon.ca

(Synopsis from goodreads)

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment. 

The plot, if you will, was so empowering! I love how it’s simply about a young Asian girl talking about her eyes and heritage. I mean come on, how awesome is that!

Since this is a picture book, I don’t expect the characters to be extremely developed. However, I loved the main character’s relationship with their grandmother and mom. It was so cute and genuine. The girl’s relationship with who I assume is her younger sister, was also incredibly sweet. I loved how every character played a positive and impactful role in the young girl’s life.

In addition, the writing was phenomenal. It was poetic and left me feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside. The metaphors were very interesting, and I adore how the author enshrouds the readers into the story. My only complaint is that some lines where repeated a little too much. In my opinion, it made the lines lose there passion and impact a bit. Then again, repetition is very common in picture books so it didn’t bother me too much.

“My eyes crinkle into crescent moons
and sparkle like the stars.
Gold flecks dance and twirl
while stories whirl
in their oolong pools,
carrying tales of the past
and hope for the future.”

― Joanna Ho, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

I’m not going to lie, the art style is what initially drew me to the book. It is without a doubt, absolutely gorgeous. The way the illustrator creates the scenes is just remarkable. They captivate the readers’ attention, and are very aesthetic!

The overall enjoyment level of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is definitely high. It took me around ten minutes to read, and let me tell you that is was certainly ten minutes well spent! I recommend this stunning book to everyone!

Age Rating: 3 and up

TW: None

Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you read Eyes that Kiss in the Corners? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 😊 Have a fabulous day!

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Rogue Princess | A Review

Hey everyone! I hope you’re doing well. Today I’ll to be reviewing Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers. Before we get into it, I would like to point out how gorgeous this cover is! 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

(Synopsis from goodreads)

A princess fleeing an arranged marriage teams up with a snarky commoner to foil a rebel plot in B. R. Myers’ Rogue Princess, a gender-swapped sci-fi YA retelling of Cinderella. Princess Delia knows her duty: She must choose a prince to marry in order to secure an alliance and save her failing planet. Yet she secretly dreams of true love, and feels there must be a better way. Determined to chart her own course, she steals a spaceship to avoid the marriage, only to discover a handsome stowaway. All Aidan wanted was to “borrow” a few palace trinkets to help him get off the planet. Okay, so maybe escaping on a royal ship wasn’t the smartest plan, but he never expected to be kidnapped by a runaway princess! Sparks fly as this headstrong princess and clever thief battle wits, but everything changes when they inadvertently uncover a rebel conspiracy that could destroy their planet forever.

First, let’s talk about the plot. The original premise sounded so cool! A steampunk genderbent Cinderella retelling? Um yes!! The execution was done fairly well. However, I feel like the story was subject to bad writing. The story was all over the place, and there were too many mini plots. I didn’t know what direction the story was taking until page 220 or so. There was also a certain event that was used as a plot device even though it barely added anything to the story. Luckily, one thing that allowed me to raise my rating was the plot twist. I was definitely not expecting it.

Additionally, the main character Delia was underdeveloped. There was so much that happened in Delia’s life, yet she still stayed the same at the end of the book. She also didn’t have much of a personality aside from not wanting to marry a prince. Then again, it’s not like Prince Charming had much of a personality in the original Cinderella. Fortunately, Aidan was a very likeable character. He was passionate, fun, and his snarky remarks never failed to make me crack a little chuckle.

“If you love anything in this world, fight for it. Otherwise what’s the point of anything?”

―B.R. Myers, Rogue Princess

The side characters were definitely a hit or miss. The princes felt very comic book like, which made them seem extremely one dimensional. Prince Quinton really caught my attention though. He was mysterious and kind, and I really enjoyed reading about him. I only wish he was a little more developed though. Same goes for Prince Felix. Moreover, Delia’s sister Shania did not stop talking about men. It was literally all she would talk about. I’m not going to lie, it did annoy me quite a bit. Thankfully, the pirates were actually very cool. I loved the way the author worked them into the story too! Overall, the majority of the characters felt very one dimensional, which is unfortunate.

Furthermore, the dialogue was consistently done well. It was most certainly the highlight of the story. The dialogue really added to the enjoyment of the novel. From Delia and Shania’s interactions, to Aidan’s sassy remarks, the dialogue was undoubtedly very enjoyable.

“There is no greater power than the power of choice.”

―B.R. Myers, Rogue Princess

The writing style is where I had a lot of issues with. It was extremely dragged out at times, and felt overly repetitive. It was too blunt and the metaphors made no sense. I simply could not get into it. Due to the writing, so many moments that where meant to seem beautiful or symbolic did not make me feel any emotions. The story was also very confusing and I found myself struggling to imagine what was going on. There was also little to no world building. This led me to being heavily confused throughout the story. Luckily, despite being in third person, the story read like a first person story. I was very happy about that since I’m not a fan of third person writing.

The overall enjoyment level of Rogue Princess was pretty average. It was a good story that simply wasn’t impactful. As mentioned previously, the writing and underdeveloped characters made the story less enjoyable. Nevertheless, the original concept was very unique. Rogue Princess opened my eyes to a completely new genre of books that I will certainly explore more of!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: manipulation, death of a loved one, violence

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐

Have you ever read steampunk or science fiction novels? Let me know in the comments down below. Have a fabulous day!

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Spring TBR 2021

Hey everyone, I hope you’re doing spectacularly. Before we get into it I just want to say…Happy Spring!!! As displayed in today’s post thumbnail, the change of seasons is really just an excuse for me to use Studio Ghibli clips. 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

(PS: Click on the covers of the books to add them to goodreads.)

First, let’s recap!

In my Winter TBR post, I said I’d read five novels. I’m happy to report that I read all of them! With that said, onto the actual TBR!

1. Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

This is a gender-bent science fiction retelling of Cinderella, which sounds so unique! I’ve actually been meaning to read this one since November, so it’s about time I pick it up.

2. The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

I love middle grade novels, and this one just seems to be amazing! I can’t wait to delve into it!

3. Made In Korea by Sarah Suk

Made in Korea | Book by Sarah Suk | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster Canada

This YA novel sounds so exciting! I love how it’s about entrepreneurship too!

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4. Jelly by Clare Rees

Jelly, Book by Clare Rees (Hardcover) | www.chapters.indigo.ca

Survival stories have always keened my interest. However, for the most part, they seem to follow a similar format. But a group of teens trapped on a giant jellyfish? Now that’s different! And just look at this sick cover!

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5. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This: Solomon, Rachel Lynn: 9781534440272: Books  - Amazon.ca

This is an exciting rom-com about two teens whose parents are involved in the wedding business. One’s parents are wedding planners, and the other’s are wedding caterers. The premise sounds super fun and I can’t wait to read it!

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6. Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

Yesterday Is History: Amazon.ca: Jackson, Kosoko: Books

This seems like a heartbreaking read that reminds me of History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera…Let’s shed some tears!

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7. Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie

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This is an eerie middle grade novel about a girl who’s being followed. As long as I don’t read it at night, I’m sure it won’t be too scary. 😂

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8. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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This gives me major Zuko from Avatar The Last Airbender vibes, and I am totally here for it. 😆

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9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious: Schwab, V. E.: 9781250183507: Books - Amazon.ca

I’ve been putting this one off for a while, so I think it’s finally time I give it another go. This’ll also be my first V.E. Schwab book!

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10. Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka

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I’m hoping to finish the remaining three volumes this spring. This series is such a fun ride about being in high school. (Really bad pun intended) I hope to pick up the author’s newest series too!

I hope you enjoyed reading my TBR list. What are some books on your spring TBR? I’d love to know! Have a fabulous day!

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Thanks A Lot, Universe | An ARC Review

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing spectacularly! Here is my review for Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas. Thank you Netgalley and ABRAM Kids for providing me with an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Without further ado, here is the review!

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

(The synopsis provided is from goodreads.)

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.

Before I get into the review, I would just like to mention how absolutely stunning the cover is. Just look at this beauty!

First let’s talk about the plot. It seemed like an average middle school coming of age. You’ve got the bullies, the awkward and quiet kid, and that one parent who loves sports. With that said, I’m happy to report that the plot was executed in a very intriguing and unique fashion. It tackled issues that I haven’t encountered all that much in other middle grade novels. My only complaint is that I feel as though the synopsis made me assume that Brian and Ezra would help each other out more than they actually did. Fortunately though, it was something pretty easy to overlook.

The main characters, thirteen year old Brian and Ezra, where so lovable! They were such interesting characters! Brian is socially awkward and has a hard time talking to the ‘popular kids.’ When I was their age, I could totally relate! Ezra was such a cool character! He loves old music, told hilarious jokes, and had great fashion sense! The only thing I found to be a little infuriating was when Brian talked so much about having trouble speaking to people, but then a couple pages later he swears at a teacher. I felt as though he went from zero to a hundred a bit too quickly. His parents also talked about how he was such a responsible kid, even though some of his actions in the book were rather questionable. Then again, I can only imagine how hard it is to be in the foster care system. My heart goes out to all of the children in these systems. Overall, our main characters are put into such heartbreaking situations that I was happy to see represented in a middle grade novel.

The side characters where also very diverse and intriguing. Thanks A Lot, Universe gave adults diverse narratives, and it really worked well in the story. It was also interesting to see Ezra lose touch with his supposed best friend. Friendship was widely explored throughout the book, and I absolutely adored that aspect of it! Moreover, I liked how although there are a lot of side characters, each character plays a significant role in Brian’s life. Whether it be positive, negative, or neutral. My only complaint is that the police officer associated with Brian wasn’t talked about that much, and we never really got to know his true intentions.

Furthermore, the dialogue was a lovely mix of lighthearted and serious. Brian’s conversations with his dad, Katie, and the police officer, seemed rather mysterious. While the conversations he had with Gabe, Brittany, his teacher, and Ezra, seemed more lighthearted. In addition, it was interesting to see how Brian explained their family situation to his little brother. Overall, the dialogue in Thanks A Lot, Universe was superb!

Unfortunately, the writing style felt repetitive at times, which was a bit of a turn off. At certain times in the story, the pacing escalated and de-escalated very quickly. For example, sometimes Brian’s mindset would change from I-am-so-shy-and-responsible to edgy-bad-boy-has-been-unlocked in almost an instant. However, as mentioned in my A Song Below Water review, I love when books have no swearing in them. There’s just something so refreshing about books like this one. I also liked how there wasn’t necessarily any romance. The main characters aren’t even fourteen yet, so it makes sense for there not be any romance. One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed reading about was the setting! It takes place in (I believe) Nova Scotia, which is a maritime province in Canada. It was very fascinating to read about a place I’ve never been to before.

The overall enjoyment level of Thanks A Lot, Universe is very high. The plot was gripping, the characters are intriguing, and the story is fast paced. Must I say more?

Age Rating: 11 and up

TW: bullying, displacement of homes, running away, some violence

Final Rating: 8/10 or 4 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What is your favorite coming of age novel? Let me know in the comments down below! Have a wonderful day!

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March Wrap-Up

Hello beautiful people of the internet! Today I bring you my March wrap-up! Before we get into it, I just want to say that I’m so sorry for not posting as often this month. March was such a hectic month for me. Nevertheless I will still be active and try to interact with all of you as much as possible!

Novels I Read (In order)

(eARC) Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars) This was such a good book! I received an ARC via Netgalley, and it was the perfect quick and emotional middle grade read. I highly recommend it! Review to come!

(eARC) In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 out of 5 stars) Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the first high fantasy book I’ve read! I received an ARC via Netgalley, turnthepagetours and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishings. This was such an epic and cute story! Book tour stop to come!

He Must Like You by Danielle Younge-Ullman: I’m halfway through this one, and am really liking it so far! Despite being fiction, it’s quite educational!

Graphic Novels and Manga read

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars) This was a mellow graphic novel about toxic relationships and discovering oneself. It was hard to get into at first, but I found myself really enjoying it towards the end. The artwork is also something I’ve never seen before, and is absolutely stunning!

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Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1 by Ryōsuke Takeuchi, Hikaru Myoshi, with ideas from Arthur Conan Doyle: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 out of 5 stars) This was such a great first volume! It was captivating, eccentric and incredibly fast paced. I highly recommend this series to any Sherlock Holmes fans or any British drama lovers.

Blue Flag Volume 3 by Kaito: This volume was as heart-wrenching and stunning as always. Can’t wait to read the next one!

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Shortcake Cake Volume 2 by Suu Morishita: ⭐⭐ (2 out of 5 stars) I feel like everything escalated way to quickly, which I’m not necessarily upset about. However, all of a sudden 2-3 boys just started calling Ten (the main character) “mine,” as if she was some kind of property they owned. That part of the book made me feel uncomfortable, because no one owns someone, and I honestly think that was inappropriate. Nevertheless, I hope to continue the series. Maybe it’ll get better!

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My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (3.5 out of 5 stars) My Last Summer with Cass was a heart wrenching story on how when life changes, so can relationships. It’s a lovely coming of age that beautifully depicts life’s ups and downs. You can read my author interview and blog tour stop for the book here!

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(eARC) Pixels of You by Anath Hirsh, Yuko Ota, and J.R. Doyle: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars) This was a futuristic sweet enemies-to-lovers graphic novel. It was definitely unique, and I’m sure people who like steampunk will find this novel enjoyable. Thank you Netgalley and ABRAMS Kids for a copy of this book!

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Total Number Of Books Read: 13

Total Number Of Posts Published: 5

Average Rating: 7.5/10 or 3.75 out of 5 stars

First, let’s recap! Last month, I said I would finish my eARC TBR, and I did! I also posted 2 bookstagram photos this month as well!

Some of my goals for April include…

  • Read three new novels
  • Post the tags I was tagged in by other (amazing) bloggers

And that’s a wrap! Before I sign off for today, I just wanted to announce that I have a book blogger related project in the works! It won’t be released anytime soon, but I just wanted to throw it out there. 😆 You can read last month’s wrap-up here. Also, if you could be so kind to fill in this form that would be great! Have a fabulous day everyone!

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Book Tour: My Last Summer With Cass// Author Interview With Mark Crilley & Top 5 Reasons to Read This Book!

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a very exciting one because I’m going to be hosting a blog tour stop for the lovely graphic novel My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley! Before we get into the tour, here is a bit about the author’s newest graphic novel.

Book Info

Title: My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley

Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel

Publishing Date: March 16, 2021

Synopsis

This One Summer meets The Edge of Seventeen in this poignant coming-of-age YA graphic novel about two childhood friends at a crossroads in their lives and art—-from the author of Mastering Manga. Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York.

When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her—she even eats chicken feet! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.

But when one girl betrays the other’s trust on the eve of what is supposed to be their greatest artistic feat yet, can their friendship survive? Can their art?

Find out more about My Last Summer With Cass with these links!

//Goodreads//Amazon//Barnes and Noble//Book Depository//Indigo//IndieBound//

Here is the tour schedule link! If you have time, do check out the other amazing tour stops as well!

Top 5 Reasons to Read My Last Summer with Cass

1. The Friendship

Anyone who has been through a friendship breakup or has had conflict with their close friends will deeply relate to what Megan and Cass go through. The kind of bond the two share is so incredibly precious yet so hard to come by. The novel displays their relationship in such a heart-wrenching way, and I am totally here for it.

2. The Exploration of Different Art Styles

My Last Summer With Cass features unique characters, with even more unique art styles. One person only uses two different shades of one color! Another creates their art very abstractly. However, my most favorite art pieces are the ones Megan and Cass create together. You can really see their different art styles work together in such an interesting way!

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3. The Setting

The story takes place in the bustling city of New York. In my opinion, the city Cass lives in (New York City), really resonates with her personality. It’s busy and creative, just like Cass. I thoguht the setting was depicted in such an intriguing way, and I really do believe that Mark Crilley draws the best atmospheres I’ve ever seen. Crilley creates scenes that draw you in, and only let you go once you’ve finished the book.

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4. The Captivity

My Last Summer With Cass is a graphic novel that you won’t want to put down. As mentioned early, the way the art is drawn is so incredibly intriguing. It allows the readers to feel as though they are in the story, and to me, that’s incredibly beautiful.

5. The Colors

The author uses colors that I’ve never seen any artist use consistently throughout graphic novels. I liked how their wasn’t much use of black. It was very refreshing to see. To top it all off, purple and blue are used quite a bit, and are used in such different emotional context as well. The colors were used in a way that portrayed every emotion the characters where experiencing in such unique ways!

Here is my bookstagram post for the tour! Simply press the image to view it on my bookstagram account.

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. I just want to say thank you so much for being here with us today! Before we begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Mark Crilley: I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where I was fascinated with drawing from my very earliest years. I continued honing my skills throughout elementary school and high school, and when I became an art major at Kalamazoo College in 1984, I had the good fortune to study under the great children’s book writer and illustrator David Small. A few years later, while teaching English in Japan, I challenged myself to create a comic book, one page per week. Upon my return to Michigan, that story– Akiko on the Planet Smoo– was eventually published, and it led to a career in comics that has continued to this day.

Saniya: That’s such a fascinating journey, thank you for sharing!

2. My Last Summer with Cass is a beautiful story. Did any real life occurrences or experiences influence the making of the book?

Mark Crilley: Thank you! Actually, this graphic novel is the most directly autobiographical story I’ve ever done, and there are many parallels between Megan’s life and my own. The character of Cass was inspired by a dear friend of mine who I first met in high school: John Walter. John eventually settled in New York City, where he became an award-winning film editor and director. I visited John in the city several times, and saw that he was moving in much more sophisticated circles than I was, and was investigating far more adventurous types of art, music, and literature than I ever had. John and I never came into conflict with each other, happily! But all of these real-life experiences, and the fact that two good friends could have such dramatically different artistic instincts, became the main source of inspiration for My Last Summer with Cass.

Saniya: That’s so cool!

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3. What was the illustration process like? Was there a certain mood or feel you wanted to portray in the art style?

Mark Crilley: I wanted the artwork to be reminiscent of artist’s sketches rather than polished, slick illustrations. So I resolved not to have any inked lines in the whole book. While I used Photoshop to push the colors in certain directions, almost everything you see in the book is hand-made art, created with pencil, markers, pastels, and white gouache. This hopefully gives the art a more organic look, with a human touch that accentuates the messy imperfections of the two main characters’ lives.

Saniya: I think it looks amazing, and totally gives off such an organic look!

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4. My Last Summer with Cass has an abundance of unique and memorable characters. Which character’s art style resonates the most with your personality?

Mark Crilley: It’s an interesting question, since all of the artist characters in the story are making artwork that was, naturally enough, actually made by me. And while Megan resembles me in terms of her personality, I have presented her as an artist who has not yet discovered her own style. When I was in college, part of me was actually quite attracted to the idea of minimalism. In this sense, the relatively minor character of Taja, who creates all her paintings from just two different shades of the same color, is probably the one whose art would resonate with me most if I saw it in real life.

Saniya: That’s very interesting.

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5. What is the main message you would like your readers to take away from this (absolutely stunning) graphic novel?

Mark Crilley: Well, wow, first let me thank you for your kind words! You know, the story builds toward a theme of how good friendships can go bad, and how important it is to not give up on them. So surely that’s the main one. But there’s a lot of other messages woven into the story, I think. The value of getting out of your comfort zone and being exposed to new things. The importance of choosing your own path in life, rather than one dictated to you by your parents. The danger of comparing yourself to others, and allowing that to make you feel insecure about yourself. All of this is in there, but hopefully in a quiet way. Really I just wanted to tell a good story, one in which readers would genuinely care about these characters, and want to see how things would work out for them.

Saniya: That’s so intriguing. I for one felt very attached to the girls’ stories, it was incredibly poignant and beautiful.

About The Author

Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment.

//Website//Instagram//Goodreads//Facebook//YouTube//

Thank you so much for reading this tour stop post, I hope you enjoyed! I hope you decide to check out My Last Summer With Cass. Have a fabulous day!

Together, Apart | A Review

Hey everyone! Today I bring you a review of the novel Together, Apart. It’s actually the first time I’ll be reviewing a collection of short stories. Anyways, let’s get right into it!

Together, Apart: Craig, Erin A., Desombre, Auriane, Hahn, Erin, Konigsberg,  Bill, Lippincott, Rachael, Morris, Brittney, Patel, Sajni, Preston,  Natasha, Yen, Jennifer: 9780593375297: Books - Amazon.ca

Erin Craig “delivers” on a story about a new girl in town and the cute pizza delivery boy, Auriane Desombre captures our hearts with teens communicating through window signs, and Bill Konigsberg takes us along on daily walks with every step bringing us closer to love. There’s flirting and romance from Rachael Lippincott, a tale of a determined girl with a mask-making business from Erin Hahn, and a music-inspired love connection from Sajni Patel. Brittney Morris turns enemies to lovers with the help of a balcony herb garden, Jennifer Yen writes an unconventional romance that starts outside a hospital, and Natasha Preston’s teens discover each other–and their love story–in a storybook oak tree.

Romantic, realistic, sweet and uplifting, TOGETHER, APART is a collection of finding love in unexpected places during an unprecedented time . . . each with the one thing we all want: a guaranteed happy ending.

 Love, Delivered by Erin A. Craig

Love, Delivered is a relatable story about what it’s like to move during a pandemic. It was interesting to see what it’s like to spend quarantine alone via the main character’s point of view. That’s something very hard to deal with, especially with the thought of constantly being worried about one’s parents. (The main character’s parents work outside the house.) Overall, it was sweet and enjoyable!

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars)

The Socially Distant Dog Walking Brigade by Bill Konigsberg

This was such a warm and fuzzy romance about two teens walking their dogs. It had it’s funny moments, but also it’s serious ones. I really liked how the story touched on mental illness and friendship breakups. It had a nice balance of silly and serious!

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.25 out of 5 stars)

One Day by Sajni Patel

I liked how One Day touched on fatigue and boredom, it was very relatable. 😂 However, the main character was so rude and arrogant. She literally threw her shoe at a guy who was playing his guitar because the sound annoyed her, and she threw her favorite shoe too. It just didn’t make sense. The love interest also came off as annoying rather than cheeky.

⭐⭐ (2.25 out of 5 stars)

The Rules of Comedy by Auriane Desombre

This was a fun tiktok-themed love story that was fairly enjoyable. Unfortunately however, I was bored halfway through the story. I did like seeing how the older and younger sister dynamic played out between the main character and their sibling.

⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars)

The New Boy Next Door by Natasha Preston

The New Boy Next Door was unfortunately, not my thing. The original concept of hanging out in a tree was cute. However, the story came off as flat and cringe-y. The main characters were very annoying. The girl was sort of pushy and made way too many Twilight references, and the boy was just rude for no reason whatsoever.

⭐ (1.5 out of 5)

Love With a Side of Fortune by Jennifer Yen

This was a light and fluffy read that left me feeling very hungry. It gave off such dark academia vibes, and I am totally here for it! However, I disliked how there was no real character development nor any relationship development between the main character and their mother. I also felt as though the main character was a bit rude to her mom. Moreover, I liked how the book touched upon having parents that work in healthcare, especially during these times. Overall, if you’re looking for a restaurant themed love story, this is the one for you!

⭐⭐⭐ (3.25 out of 5 stars)

The Green Thumb War by Brittney Morris

I loved this one! The concept of a plant war was absolutely hilarious and totally unique! The execution was pretty good too. I only wish it was a bit funnier, but that’s just my taste. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars)

Stuck with Her by Rachel Lippincott

This was a cute story about what it’s like to live with a loud and messy roommate. I liked how the love interest was 🌟mysterious🌟. Moreover, I felt as though the romance escalated so quickly. One second the main character hates her roommate, then the next second they kiss? It just didn’t make sense. It also felt very repetitive as well. However, I do think people who live in similar circumstances will enjoy this short story more than I did.

⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars)

Masked by Erin Hahn

Masked was a rather imaginative story that I ultimately feel like could have turned into an actual novel. It was fun, light, and exciting. I also thought it was cool that the main character cut fabric out of her prom dress to create masks for people working outside their homes. It was very kind of her.

⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars)

Overall, this was a comforting book containing stories related to COVID-19, and I am totally here for it!

Age Rating: 12 and up

TW: Talk of friendship breakups and mental illness in The Socially Distant Dog Walking Brigade. Talk of deaths relating to COVID-19 in some of the stories.

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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What did you all think of this collections of short stories? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a wonderful day!

Author Interview With Aamna Qureshi

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a special one because the lovely Aamna Qureshi is here to answer some of my questions. I am beyond excited to have her here with us today! Before we get into the interview, here is a bit about her upcoming novel; The Lady or the Lion.

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(Synopsis from goodreads)

Crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar’s gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. Enter Ambassador Asfandyar Afridi, a wry foreigner who admits outright that he is a spy. Stubborn, proud, and suspicious of foreigners, Durkhanai does not appreciate that he won’t bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her.

And yet, she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack as more ambassadors from neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each one of them with their own agenda and reasons to hide the truth. When a mysterious illness spreads through the village and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must sort through the ever shifting loyalties at court and her growing feelings for Asfandyar. Will she be able to leave the antics of a spoiled princess behind and become what her people need-a queen?

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. Hi there Aamna! I’m super happy that you’re here with us today. Before we start, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Aamna: Hi! Thanks for having me! A little bit about myself is that I’m twenty-one, I have an intense love for period dramas, I am really close with my family, I constantly miss Pakistan, and I am currently living the dream as an author!

Saniya: That’s wonderful!

2. I cannot wait to read The Lady or the Lion! May I ask, what inspired the making of this novel?

Aamna: I was inspired by the short story “The Lady or the Tiger?” and my love for Pakistan. My main influences were The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkowski and The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh. 

Saniya: Ooo that’s very interesting!

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3. Do you have a specific writing routine? 

Aamna: I try to! When I first get an idea for a story, I usually compile a document of snippets and scenes and quotes that come to me in images and bursts, then I try to turn that into a general outline, then expand that into specific chapters, then finally, I tackle the drafting. It helps me to have a schedule and to set a deadline for myself. I aim to write 2,000 words a day, five days a week when I am on that deadline — but of course, some days are good, some are bad. 

Saniya: That’s such a cool routine!

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4. Is there a character in The Lady or the Lion that you resonate most with?

Aamna: The protagonist, Durkhanai. She feels things so intensely, which is definitely something I relate to. 

Saniya: Sounds awesome! I can’t wait to meet all the characters!

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5. The Lady or the Lion is inspired by Pakistan. That’s so cool! On your website, you showcase beautiful pictures of the country. Do you have a favorite memory of your time there?

Aamna: There’s so many! But my favorite memories are ones that encompass absolute peace and contentment: lying on a charpai outside, watching the clouds move; my head by my grandmother’s lap, her fingers stroking my hair; sitting in a room filled with family members, everyone laughing and talking over one another. 

Saniya: That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing.

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6. The cover of the novel is absolutely stunning! What inspired the making of the cover?

Aamna: Thank you! The cover is actually a painting by Asrar Farooqi, and then designed by Maryann Appel at CamCat Books, who did a stunning job. I have been a longtime fan of Farooqi, who is a Pakistani painter, so when it came time to design the cover, I really wanted to commission something by him. I described the setting to Farooqi, and he took over in his style. My publishing team was great with letting me be involved in the whole process, and I am so happy with the way it came out! 

Saniya: It truly is a stunning cover.

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7. Lastly, if I may I ask, can you please describe the storyline of The Lady or the Lion with emojis?

This question was heavily inspired by Ahaana @ Windows To World. They did a blog tour stop and author interview for the novel ‘Hot British Boyfriend.’ Please do check out their post as well right here!

Aamna: 👸🏻👀🤔🥰💗🤒🤬🤭🥺🤪🤤😨🤯😭🦁👩🏻👑💔

Saniya: Ooo mysterious! 😆

About The Author

Aamna Qureshi is a Pakistani, Muslim American who adores words. She grew up in a very loud household, surrounded by English (for school), Urdu (for conversation), and Punjabi (for emotion). Through her writing, she wishes to inspire a love for the beautiful country and rich culture that informed much of her identity. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to new places where she can explore different cultures or to Pakistan where she can revitalize her roots. She also loves baking complicated desserts, drinking fancy teas and coffees, watching sappy rom-coms, and going for walks about the estate (her backyard). She currently lives in New York. Look for her on IG @aamna_qureshi and Twitter @aamnaqureshi_ and at her website.

Add The Lady or the Lion to goodreads here!

Thank you once again Aamna for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some of my questions, and thank you all for reading! Have a fabulous day everyone!

Five Novels to Celebrate International Women’s Day With!

Hiya! Here are five great novels to celebrate International Women’s Day with. (If you’re wondering, International Women’s Day is on the 8th of March.) Filled with feminism and empowerment, these books are perfect for this lovely day!

(PS; As always, click on the book covers to add the novels to goodreads.)

1. Wench

Wench by Maxine Kaplan is the perfect story for magic lovers! Filled with exciting adventures, this is the feminist fantasy novel you’ve been waiting for!

Wench by Maxine Kaplan

2. Know My Name

Know My Name by Chanel Miller is a memoir of a young woman’s life after getting assaulted. It’s a moving novel that I do recommend you check out.

Know My Name: A Memoir: Miller, Chanel: 9780735223707: Books - Amazon.ca

3. Six Angry Girls

Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner is a book about female empowerment, knitting, and mock trials. How unique is that?

Six Angry Girls

4. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Nam-Joo Cho (translated by Jamie Chang) is a story about the everyday life of a Korean woman. It’s 192 pages, and breaks down the layers of what it means to be a woman in such an interesting way!

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 | Book by Cho Nam-Joo, Jamie Chang | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster AU

5. The Knockout

The Knockout by Sajni Patel is about a teenage girl named Kareena Thakkar who’s a rising star in Muay Thai. The story follows Kareena as she navigates through life. I think the fact that she’s doing Muay Thai is so cool!

The Knockout by S.A. Patel

That’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed, and thank you for reading!

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