October BuJo Theme Ideas + Inspiration

Welcome back to The Inky Saga! It has been a hot minute since I posted on the blog, but I do not feel like going into any explanations today. I will save that for Friday. To start building up some blogging momentum this week ahead of October, I decided to end September with week’s worth of daily blog posts. Today specifically I decided to share the finalists on my list of October bujo theme ideas. October Bujo Theme Ideas

September started off strong, but I ultimately stopped keeping up with this month’s bullet journal after some loss of inspiration regarding the weekly spreads in particular. I have been working a lot, and thus do not have a lot of time left for personal projects. My bullet journal has generally been a place for me to record progress on my personal projects not related to work. As result, I had long columns for each day with nothing much to record. It’s disheartening to see such bare pages!

See: A Month of Instagram Content for BuJo Artists

My priority this October is come up with new weekly spreads that suit my new life schedule. But before I can do any of that, I need to pick my October bujo theme! Since I wanted to start blogging again with a bang, here is a list of my top 5 October bujo theme ideas for the coming month. Enjoy!

Autumn Leaves | Magic | Pumpkins | Coffee | Fairy Tales

If you would like to further investigate the sources of any of the images I share in this post, look for the watermarks either inserted by the creator or myself in a plum text color. WordPress will not let me hyperlink each individual image to its direct source because of how I formatted the images, but if you hover over the image you can see the creator’s social handle. Most creators can be found on Instagram.

I think there was only one image I could not source beyond WeHeartIt.com, but saw several variations of the same graphic. Let me know if anything was misattributed!

October BuJo Theme Ideas

Theme #1 Autumn Leaves

If I lived in a part of the country where autumn is better reflected in nature during September, I may have already utilized this theme for my September bujo. However in Texas, it still feels very like much like summer until autumn is technically well under way. There are so many amazing art styles I’ve seen execute the theme of autumnal leaves. Here are just a few that I think would make for a lovely October bujo theme.

Theme #2 Magic

A lot of people execute Harry Potter themes in September, because that is when Hogwarts is back in session. However, I never feel September is very magical. I did decide to bookmark some of these themes to revisit come October. While I loved Harry Potter as a child, I am not as obsessed as I once was with the world. I feel like I do not have a lot of originality to offer when it comes to this theme.

A magic could be informed by Halloween classics like Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus, which feature witches and broomsticks and potions galore. You could also take more general inspiration from other books or movies that feature those iconic depictions of witchcraft (e.g. cauldons, black cats, pointy hats).

Theme #3 Pumpkins

Pumpkins are one of the first things that came to my mind when I thought of October bujo themes. Funnily enough, they are one of the first things I ever I remember ever learning to draw with precision as a child. It would be so much fun to make such a simple subject and render it in forms as varied as this squash takes in real life. Here are some of the pieces that would inspire my own October bujo spread.

Theme #4 Coffee

I found some coffee/tea bujo themes earlier this year and decided to bookmark them for the season in which it is most pleasing to drink them. There’s nothing more pleasant than being able to cosy up in the evening to read or write with a nice hot chai latte or mocha by my side. If not for October, I could see myself executing this theme in November for NaNoWriMo!

Theme #5 Fairy Tales

The theme of fairy tales may seem pretty close to magic, but there’s a subtle differentiation in my mind. When I think of fairy tales I think of woods, woodland creatures, and monsters. It’s more folksy. Environment plays a bigger role in my mind, whereas magic in general is more associated with mystical items. Grimm’s fairy tales may provide some inspiration, but I was also thinking about The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. The book has some amazing illustrations that could be fun to adapt into bujo spreads.

I could not find anything in my basic cursory searches on Instagram or Pinterest that emulate what I would like to go for. There are plenty of Alice in Wonderland or Disney-themed bujo themes I can find, but those do not appeal to me. Most likely I will need to pursue this theme when I have more time to plan it!

Final Thoughts on My October BuJo Theme

If you have already picked your October bujo theme, please feel free to share it in the comments down below! Usually I know which theme I will pick by the end of writing these posts. My final decision will probably come this weekend. I hate saving it for the last minute, but I have a few more things on my agenda before October. Nevertheless, it was really fun being able to talk bujo themes and share some amazing bujo artist work today!

Thanks for stopping by!
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Revisiting Harry Potter | Part II

Today I am sharing Part II in my journey back through the Harry Potter series. In case you missed it, Revisiting Harry Potter | Part I went up on Tuesday in which I shared some notes that I jotted down as I read through HP 1–4.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the final three books in the series and some final reflections on the series as a whole.

As I touch on in the previous post, I think dividing this series where I did was appropriate. The first four books were the only ones out when the movies started being made and I feel like there is a natural division in the series. At the end of the fourth book, Voldemort makes his great return. The story could have gone ANYWHERE from the fifth book onward.

Rowling makes the choice to draw out Voldemort’s return by having him stay hidden, working behind the scenes to undermine Dumbledore and the Ministry of Magic. He also benefits from the smear campaign against Harry and the only wizard he ever feared. I don’t know how many authors would have made the same story choice, but even when I was young I remember thinking this was a remarkable story choice.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

This book might always have a special place in my heart. I remember this book particularly fondly as it defined the summer before 5th grade when I moved from south Texas to northwest Iowa. I read this book several times over that summer where we knew no one had nowhere to go.

In hindsight, I think this was the most complex book I had ever read at the tender age of 10. I think HP 5 is known as the book of “Emo Harry,” and to be honest that didn’t bother me in the slightest as I was approaching my moody middle school age.

Even now, I am not too fussed about how angsty Harry is in this book. I think it’s warranted and realistic how his angst becomes misdirected at his friends. I love that Dumbledore owns it at the end of the book as his own fault for isolating Harry at a crucial time when a lot of things are happening. I think Harry gets his comeuppance, too, by losing Sirius, even though Kreacher is tremendously to blame for misleading him when he sought to ascertain if Sirius was there at Grimmauld Place.

I loved the character development of Ginny and Neville in this book. I also loved seeing badass Dumbledore evading arrest. On the other hand, I was a lot less enchanted by Luna this time around. I feel like the movie version is a lot more likable. I was never a big fan of Cho Chang’s to begin with and this reread doesn’t really change anything for me, although I like how Harry handles her after he becomes disillusioned with her.

I feel like the biggest con for this book is how reluctant I was to reach the climax, and not just because it was a trap in which Harry endangers all his friends. It’s probably my least favorite showdown in all the books. It’s feels kind of underwhelming how they reach the Ministry of Magic, especially after the excitement of luring Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest. As for the confrontation itself, it felt a bit messy juggling so many different characters. I like that the characters hold their own after their D.A. training throughout the book, but that all the kids all survive without lasting damage feels unlikely.

Furthermore, I sooooo do not think Voldemort needed to lure Harry there to get his hands on the prophecy. I think he could’ve snuck unnoticed just fine on his own with his helpers. It works as it relates to the truth Dumbledore had been hiding from Harry this entire time, but I don’t think it needed to be revealed this way.

It’s only significant for Voldemort in that not knowing the entire prophecy brought his ruin, but I don’t see how it was a “weapon” that was a game-changer for him now. Certainly not something that the Order needed to guard and protect. Surely Voldemort would have continued to try to kill Harry because of how many times he had humiliated him. And on Harry’s part, I feel like he wouldn’t have ever let Voldemort return to his reign of terror. Harry could entirely be driven by the need to avenge his parents and protect his friends. He totally has a hero-complex.

I don’t have anything personal against “chosen one” tropes, but I think making it a big focus now five books into the series unnecessarily belabored it. I don’t remember ever having a burning desire to hear the finite details about why Voldemort tried to kill Harry when he was a baby. It would’ve been enough to simply know there was a prophecy. Maybe if the mystery had been built into the series more from the beginning the focus of this book on the big reveal would feel more essential.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

This is another book that I rated highly before rereading. Similarly to HP 5, I like how in this one Harry is thrown into the past via carefully curated memories and able to see the moments that inform Dumbledore’s knowledge about how to take down Tom Riddle.

At times it felt a bit heavy handed when Dumbledore analyzed the memories for Harry (and us), essentially taking away our ability to reason out what kind of man Tom Riddle became and what he valued. I think that’s why I found myself not enjoying this book as much as I originally did.

Harry spends much of this book being told what to do and not thinking too hard about why or how to assert any power over his destiny. When he’s not having “private lessons” with Dumbledore he is gleefully using an old textbook that essentially is a cheat book for him to get ahead in his Potions class. For the first year Potions is not taught by Snape (a detail I had forgotten!) but by Professor Slughorn who taught Voldemort when he was at Hogwarts.

Additionally, I don’t like how Harry is obsessed with Draco Malfoy in this book. It’s almost funny that like in HP 2, Harry wastes his time tailing him even though his evidence is shoddy (or incomplete). If I could change one thing about this book, I would have Draco’s character be more developed and have him and Harry reach some kind of common ground. I’m beginning to realize that Rowling does not offer much reason for us sympathize with her villains… (More on this idea in a later post, perhaps.)

I think another reason I don’t enjoy this book as much as I do the earlier ones is that the holidays are not special occasions in this book. They’re glossed over and nothing important happens during them. It’s a silly thing to criticize perhaps, but I feel like the Harry Potter series benefitted from their strong emphasis of the holidays. (Think about when the movies came out on television: on Halloween and at Christmas.)

One thing I love in this book, which I feel might be an unpopular opinion in some circles, is how Harry begins to realize his feelings for Ginny. It happens so subtly throughout the book and I love how clueless he is about it. Ginny becomes so bad-ass in this book too, I almost wish we got to see more about how her character blossomed throughout the series in a way similar to Neville.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I don’t really know how to describe my expectations entering this book for the first time in 10+ years. I found myself thinking more of the movies. If you recall HP 7 was split into two movies, ushering in future unnecessary two-part finales of book-to-movie adaptions (Twilight and Divergent, I’m looking at you).

I don’t know where popular opinion stands on this issue, but I personally feel like the final two movies did not due this book full justice.

I could not help but read this book and think about what scenes would have been soooo much better to depict on the big screen, particularly in the first Deathly Hallows movie. I…can’t get into it…I want to, but this is neither the time nor post for this digression!

My favorite parts of this book include the scenes before the trio is abruptly forced to leave Bill and Fleur’s wedding and the book from the point when Harry is rescued from the frozen lake by Ron. At that point, nearly halfway through the book, I was glued to the book. I LOVE the chapters once the trio is able to get back into Hogwarts and be reunited with everyone who has been forced to endure Hogwarts under Snape’s leadership.

The ending was EVERYTHING. Kreacher leading the house elves on their crusade out of the kitchens was something I didn’t know I needed. Seeing Dobby, Fred, Remus, and Tonks die again was also so emotional, particularly Fred after the Weasleys had just reunited with Percy. It was so cruel, but so expected. In a war, you can’t realistically expect everyone to come out alive.

I was never one who liked Snape’s character all that much. Growing up before this book came out and we learned where Snape’s loyalties truly lied, I had friends who were obsessed with him, or maybe just Alan Rickman. Experiencing again his childhood and his feelings for Lily was even more heart-breaking this time around for me. It made me want to watch that final movie again for those scenes alone.

My main criticism of the book surround Dumbledore. I don’t know WHO was clambering for post-mortem character development of this beloved character. I do think it was brilliant on Rowling’s part to bring his character down from the pedestal. Otherwise, I think people would still wonder why he couldn’t be the one to bring Voldemort down.

Where I complained in HP 6 that Harry’s character didn’t have much time devoted to his own development, HP 7 rectifies it. At every pain-staking slow turn in this book Harry is forced to question why Dumbledore didn’t see fit to give him all the answers he needed to know in order to defeat Voldemort. By the end of the book, we not only can understand why Harry is able to make peace with his need to sacrifice himself but also how it makes him a better man than Dumbledore and, therefore, the only man who can truly take down Voldemort.

Where the ending gets bogged down is in the specifics of why Harry needs to die before he can defeat Voldemort and then, once he returns, why he is the true owner of the Elder Wand.

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Reflection

Now that I’ve finished these last three books, I feel grateful that I was able to read these books and adore them when I was still an adolescent. At times, I found it hard to pick these three books up specifically. Not only were they long, I feel like the story as a whole took on a direction that it need not have jumping off from where Harry is left in HP 4.

My adolescence ended up being defined by these stories, waiting for both the subsequent books and movies to come out. In between the releases I would read Harry Potter fan fiction wherever I could find it that helped keep this world alive in my head throughout the year. (I specifically remember Quizilla, MuggleNet.net, and ultimately FanFiction.net.) I don’t know if I would ever have wanted to be an author if it was not for these books…

Having revisited this series now, I feel that the story holds up. I’m in awe at the story crafted over seven novels and feel my desire to create stories reaffirmed. I love that I can still lose myself in these stories and can better appreciate the lessons about people that these stories teach.

Rowling’s writing style is very simple, but the world she brings to life is anything but. This series is great reminder that you don’t need to have flowery language or style to create something beautiful. A strong plot and colorful characters are enough.

Next up on Betwined Reads is a review of the mobile game Hogwarts Mystery (5/19)!

Thank you for reading!
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Revisiting Harry Potter | Part I

Shortly after I posted my “April Goals + TBR” post, I decided it was time I give the Harry Potter series a reread. It has been over 10 years since the final book came out and in that time I’ve not given the books much thought. However, as I’ve been working on my novel, I had found myself thinking a lot about how J.K. Rowling writes and decided it would be worthwhile to revisit the books that have been in my eyes the epitome of young adult fantasy.

I did not think it would take me long to reread these books (I was wrong). Since I’d just started book blogging seriously again, I did not want to read these books and have nothing to show for it on the blog. Therefore, I started this post to keep track of my thoughts as I went through each book!

Originally I thought it would be one long post, but as I reached HP 3, I realized it would be better to break it into two parts, Part I covering HP 1–4. As I’ve since completed reading the final book, I’m pleased to announce you can expect Part II to come out in two days on Thursday (5/17).

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I decided I wanted to revisit the Harry Potter series again after reading Akata Witch, which I reviewed on Betwined Reads in April.  It had been a long time since I picked up these books. There have been a few reasons I wanted to revisit the Wizarding world, but I must admit, I wasn’t excited to start at the beginning.

My favorite books of the series were the middle to later ones. However, I remembered that when I last reread these books, HP 1 and HP 2 were a breeze, so I figured they would not take away too much valuable time to read. Additionally, I didn’t want to have any regrets.

HP 1 is so cute. I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful or dismissive. Rather, I think Rowling’s debut does a fantastic job portraying the 11-year-old Harry, Ron, and Hermione in a way that I think really makes for excellence character development in the series as a whole. At times it was frustrating to read how vehemently the trio believes Snape is the villain, but it makes sense with their limited life experience and emotional maturity that the meanest teacher had to be the bad guy. There is no way for them to grasp the complexity of his character yet.

I also adore how they become detectives in mystery the sorcerer’s stone and discovering who would want to steal it. It is also endearing that they are courageous enough to take on the villain when they think there’s no one else who will stop him.

(All this being said, I feel now at this age that I can understand Snape’s later frustrations with these kids and what he sees as arrogance. They’re very bold in their sense of agency and willingness to step in to solve problems where no one has asked them to.)

I feel like this book is ultimately the most “middle grade” of the whole series. They progressively get darker as early as the second book, but in HP 1 our trio is the ultimate symbols of pre-teen empowerment. As kid, it’s easy to feel like adults refuse to hear you or understand you. In this book, Harry, Ron, and Hermione prove they’re right and take on danger successfully. They become heroes by virtue of each of their individual strengths.

My favorite thing about rereading this book is seeing Neville. We all know that he could’ve just as easily been the “chosen one” and it is at times heart-breaking to see him in this book be blundering and constantly underestimated. That scene where Snape makes Neville think Harry was trying to get him in trouble on purpose just for the fun of it made me rethink my new found sympathy for the man.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

After I finished HP 1, I knew that I was ready to marathon the whole series. Therefore, I swiftly picked up HP 2. My main memory of this book was how much darker it was than the first.

HP 2 is very similar to HP 1 in structure. There is a mystery that the trio feels compelled to solve that leads to the climax in which Harry must once again face the villain who has wanted to kill him since he was a baby.

I loved the concept of the Chamber of Secrets and that the central conflict of HP 2 is that an unsolved mystery from the past is repeating itself in the story (see Truly Devious for a similar motif).

With the overall series in mind, we witness Harry’s first experience having people turn on him. It’s sad to see him question himself and whether he truly belongs to the house of Gryffindor and not Slytherin. This book also hikes up the dramatic social tensions that exist around “purity” of blood. Muggleborns are the target of the Heir of Slytherin and we see Draco represent the magic children who grow up in homes steeped in racism.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

HP 3 has always been my favorite Harry Potter book. It is certainly still my favorite movie. The time traveling aspect is what really blew my mind as a kid. It was so cool. This is probably one of the first books that I admired for its plotting. I also loved the idea of the marauders, the ultimate group of friends, to whom we’re introduced in this book.

Unlike the first two books, HP 3 is less about our trio being investigators on a specific mission and more about Harry dealing with feeling overprotected without quite knowing why and wanting to be able to defend himself. We see him become proactive in learning the patronus charm. Additionally, this book covers Hagrid’s efforts to save the life of his hippogriff Buckbeak, a sub-plot that becomes significant at the end when Harry discovers he must covertly save his godfather’s life.

For the first time in the series, the Wizarding world begins to open up in HP 3. We learn about the Knight Bus when Harry runs away from the Dursleys, see Hogsmeade, and learn of the fearsome wizard prison Azkaban. We also find out more about the circumstances that led to the death of the Potters, specifically the infamous betrayal. We also get to experience new magical beasts like boggarts, dementors, and werewolves.

One of my favorite things about this book is the long climax and denouement. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another book where it happens like in HP 3 where the denouement is just as thrilling as the climax. So much is unveiled in the Shrieking Shack, then right when we think justice will be served BAM! Full moon, Lupin transforms against his will, Wormtail gets away, and Sirius is captured. And that’s not the end of it, no! Harry learns that he can save him with the aide of Hermione’s secret time-turner.

I’m going to stop right there, even though that’s not even the end of it!

The only thing I can say I thought was over the top was the drama between Ron and Hermione over Crookshanks. I suppose it should be touching how loyal Ron was to his rat, but that thing was a pain in the butt. And to let it ruin a friendship is disgraceful.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

HP 4 was my least favorite book in the series growing up. I hated the movie (Harry and Ron with those shaggy heads of hair) and just didn’t like overarching plot surrounding the Triwizard Tournament. I also didn’t care for the teenage angst and drama it brought to our favorite trio, especially concerning Ron. (And this doesn’t really change after my latest rereading.)

Reading the book again, I was immediately pleased that with the movie so far removed from recent memory, I could envision the story differently. I know that my mind picked up on a bunch of different things now that I’ve read the book knowing how HP 7 ends.

I really like the new characters introduced in this book. If I have any complaints, it’s just that there were a few too many to follow. Barty Crouch’s family drama is really interesting, but we had to wait for it all to come out at the end. The stuff with Ludo Bagman seemed unnecessary, although, I liked how it helped establish the deep-rooted desire Weasley twins to build a joke shop. Rita Skeeter is one of the best worst characters ever, and while I wish she could’ve been omitted, I recognize her part in the overall series is to discredit Harry, Dumbledore, and their allies, which helps the public ignore Voldemort until it is too late.

Something I rarely think about in terms of these books is the social critique and political intrigue of the Wizarding world. In this book we learn just how difficult life was in the height of Voldemort’s power, between the hysteria of who was a Death Eater and who was acting of their own free will or otherwise. It’s scary to see how the Minister of Magic reacts to the news of Voldemort’s return. Scary because ignorance is a close friend of evil.

To wrap up my thoughts on this book, I did enjoy this book tremendously more than I did when I was younger. It also made me really dislike Ron. I can understand what he’s feeling, but I don’t like how he takes his jealousy out on his friends. And knowing that he ends up with Hermione is kind of disappointing to me. I feel like he’s really narrow-minded and a hot-head. It’ll be interesting to see if my feelings about him change in the last three books.

End Note

Ending this post on HP 4 ended up working perfectly as these first four books were all in the original box set my mother bought for me when the mania surrounding the first movie was just beginning. I was not an avid reader when I became aware of Harry Potter as a thing, and I’m not someone who can boast that these books made me fall in love with books. (I loved reading from the moment I learned to do it and could take pride in burning quickly through them.)

All I remember was the fun of reading these books at night in bed with my Dad. I don’t know exactly why it was him and not my Mom who read these books with me, but I’m glad it’s something I was able to share with him.

Revisiting Harry Potter | Part II will be out early on Thursday (5/17)!

Thank you for reading!
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Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Released: July 11, 2017
Pages: 349 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Identity, friendship, balance, power of knowledge, values
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / African-American Fiction
Age Group: 10+

★★

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

Preface

I first discovered Akata Witch because of Leigh Bardugo. As one typically does with their favorite authors, I look for books that have been recommended by authors whose writing I admire. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this article by Cosmopolitan last year “Leigh Bardugo Recommends 5 Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books Every Woman Should Read.”

Bardugo describes Akata Witch as “a really delightful heir to Harry Potter. It’s a really perfect read for younger readers who might be looking to get into fantasy.” As someone who grew up loving Harry Potter, I recognized this tremendous compliment and decided to look into the book. As I am a writer of YA fantasy, I felt Akata Witch would be an fun book to dissect for how another author world builds.

I had read The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and not been impressed by the overwhelming similarities to Harry Potter, so I kept my expectations for Harry Potter-level excellence low. But from the summary, I was getting Wonder Woman: Warbringer vibes, which was written by Leigh Bardugo, so I couldn’t help but be excited.

Before I go any further, let me just say that Akata Witch is an outstanding entry into YA fantasy that I think everyone should read.

My Thoughts

I loved this book and am so excited for young readers who will be able to access this book while they are still children. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that much of fantasy that young adults will consume from an early age is set in the Western world and with primarily white characters.

As a young adult, it never bothered me (a hispanic, cis-gendered, straight female) and I don’t think it bothers too many because the power of books is allow readers to step into the shoes of other people, even those who seem so different from ourselves. It’s only as we grow older that we wonder how much more confident or proud we would have felt of our own heritage and the culture of our ancestors if we had seen it in the books that we cherished.

That’s why I’m so excited about this book. It is not just a book that represents progress; it is so much fun that it should appeal to anyone!

The magic world (which I describe in greater detail in the next section) is a fantastic adventure to explore and there are so many great characters that show a range of leopard lifestyles that I think make the magic feel accessible to people from all walks of life, which makes it feel more real and appealing. There’s also great moments of situational humor that I enjoy more than anything else.

Atmospherically, the book feels like it could become a Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film in the style of Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro.

Craft

The magic system of Akata Witch is unlike anything I’ve ever read. I can understand the Harry Potter (and even Percy Jackson) comparisons, but it does not really come off that Okorafor used the former books as a check-list. Everything in Akata Witch‘s world and magic system is so specific and feels authentic to the country and its environment.

I could actually see how this book leaves it open so that the magical world of Nigeria could fit into that of the HP universe. Instead of wands, the magic people have juju knives. Instead of the witch/wizard vs. muggle dichotomy, Akata Witch has leopard (magic) people and lambs (non-magic).

As witches and wizards in the HP universe can be muggle-born, similarly leopards can be born of lambs. I don’t remember Rowling going into where magic comes from in the HP universe, but in Akata Witch Okorafor explains how magic (or juju as it’s called in her books) is the source of a spiritual awareness or connection.

The protagonist, Sunny, is actually what is called a free agent, which means neither of her parents are leopards. Rather than a magic school à la Hogwarts, young leopards maintain a double-life, going to regular (Lamb) school and independently studying juju with an advisor and, if they’re lucky, a mentor who can better guide them according to their strengths.

Leopards pride themselves on valuing knowledge above all else. Indeed, the economics are divinely (read: mysteriously) arranged so that leopards earn chittim (curved metal rods that act as leopard currency) by learning new things and developing wisdom. It just falls out of the sky no matter where the leopard is at the time–––an aspect of the world that felt more video game-inspired than anything else!

One thing I did not like about this story from a writing perspective is how convenient the major conflict of the story unfolds and resolves. In the back of our heads as we read this story is the child serial killer called the Black Hat. Halfway through the book, Sunny learns she is a leopard and her oha coven (Sunny’s quartet of friends who balance each other in ability and personality) have been brought together to defend the world against the rise of an evil entity.

I also didn’t like how often Sunny would be asking her friends and their teachers/mentors questions and they would tell her to wait and gratification was delayed. It was done too much! It reminds me of my earliest writing adventures when I’d not have the answers as the writer so I’d put it off writing those explanatory scenes by having my characters wait.

Final Thoughts

Young adults and adults alike can enjoy this book. Admittedly, there are some dark depictions of the harm that befell the child victims of the novel’s villain that may unsettle much younger readers, but these moments are few and far between.

I look forward to getting my hands on the next book Akata Warrior as soon as possible! I’m just annoyed that I got the paperback of the first book because I’m one of those annoying people who likes their books to match on their shelves, so I must suffer waiting for the release of book two’s paperback edition. Rats!

If you’d like to read more YA fantasy that celebrates diversity, I also recommend City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. (Because of my research as I wrote this review, I also believe the Percy Jackson books may nicely compliment Akata Witch. As I’ve never read them, I don’t feel comfortable recommending them.)

Have you read Akata Witch? If so, what’d you think?!

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Stranger Things Book Tag

Stranger Book Tag

In celebration of the arrival of Season 2 of Stranger Things to Netflix, I decided I wanted to do a Stranger Things-themed book tag! I went out in search specifically for an existing tag with this name and my favorite was found here, but she did not link to the tag’s creator so I’m not sure from where it originally came. If you know, let me know in the comments and I will happily link to the original post.

Feel free to do this tag if you’d like and take the banner I created! I’m not tagging anyone specific as it’s a bit of an old tag, but if you do it feel free to link back to this post and let me know in the comments so I can go read yours ^_^

#1 The Vanishing of Will Beyers

The first book in a series that left you intrigued and slightly confused.

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen | I loved this book and have read it twice, but I still remember the initial confusion about the setting of this novel. There’s a map but throughout the novel are hints that this story is set in some sort of distant future in which Harry Potter and modern medicine were lost…Oh, and there’s magic. Sounds crazy right?! It’s all explained in the second book, though.

#2 The Upside Down

A book with a setting you’d never want to live in.

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White Cat by Holly Black | I’m not even finished reading this book yet, but I already know I would not want to live in this world! They live in an alternative universe where mob-like families seem rule the world and gloves are a social requirement so that people know they haven’t been “worked” on, in other words been affected by the powers of others. Yikes!

#3 Eleven

A book you own that is somewhat damaged but loved to pieces.

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee | I probably got this book in 8th or 9th grade when it was required reading for English class. I would’ve never known it would become one of the oldest books in my collection and one I still cherish and count as one that has shaped the kind of person I aim to be. The pages have somewhat yellowed and the cover is a little worn but I’ll probably keep it as long as I can.

#4 Mike, Lucas, and Dustin

A trilogy you always go to when you need a pick me up.

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The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | I really had to think about the series I wanted to choose for this category as most of my trilogies are fantasies with high stakes and not books I pick up to lift my mood or spirits, more so for excitement. But The Illuminae Files books are filled with a lot of laughs and good humor despite the space monsters and overall peril. If I didn’t have a never-ending TBR I would probably pick these books up more often. As it is, I will have to wait until NEXT YEAR for the final installment which is hopefully a fun and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

#5 The Demogorgan

A book with a terrifying beast you wouldn’t want to meet in an alley.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Maybe it’s because I just read this book, but I feel like the antagonist is super scary because of how unpredictable it must be for the general public and how hateful it is toward humanity. The Wood has the power to create horrifying monsters of unsuspecting humans and wizards, and also has really creepy creatures of its own that I know I wouldn’t stand a chance against.

#6 Dr. Brenner

A book series with a villain who is both manipulative and dedicated.

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The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo | I feel like so many villains are manipulative and dedicated but also really nuanced these days. But I do think that the Darkling of The Grisha Trilogy really takes the cake. He’s so dedicated to his cause and that of the oppressed Grisha, it’s hard not to sympathize with him. He’s also so manipulative that he gets caught up in it himself when trying to turn Alina to his side.

#7 Nancy Wheeler

A book you didn’t expect to love.

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | I recently reread this book this past summer and I still have a really soft spot for it. It still makes me cry super hard, even now that I read it knowing what’s going to happen. It was such a random purchase for me at the time that I bought it (since I’m not a big fan of contemporary YA) that I think this book is definitely one that has caught me off guard to become one that I love.

#8 Hawkins, Indiana

A book with a setting that is just a little bit strange.

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Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | The setting of this book is actually A LOT bit strange. It’s set in Brooklyn, which is strange enough to me because I’ve never been to New York, but it’s also really strange in that a chain of convenience stores called BY’s spins in the air and is surrounded by the spiked heads of shoplifters, many of whom we can deduce might have been set up by the evil hands wandering the store. It’s also pretty strange how the magic operating the stores also keep the locals, including law enforcement, from ever thinking to try and obtain justice.

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this book tag! It was a lot of fun thinking of good books I’d like to share for each category. Before I go, I also wanted to let you know what’s coming up on Betwined Reads. I’ve got three new posts planned for the last three days of October, all related to NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that is…Google it. Or you can wait until tomorrow for my first post explaining my plans for the event and some potentially useful tidbits for success this November! ^_^

Who else is ecstatic for the return of Stranger Things?!

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Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.