Category Archives: ARC

Fable by Adrienne Young

fableNot only did Fable watch her mother drown during a horrible storm, but then her father (a powerful trader named Saint) abandoned her on a desolate island full of thieves.  Using the skills her mother had taught her, Fable survived by diving and mining pyre that she could trade for coppers.  After scrimping and saving for a time, Fable suddenly found herself under attack and in need of a quick escape.  Fortunately, she managed to find passage through the Narrows on a ship with a trader named West.  Something seemed off about this ship, though.  And it wasn’t just the fact that West was so young, or that he had a particularly small crew…  When they stopped in a port to do some trading, Fable couldn’t help but notice some further abnormalities about their business dealings.  When this stop also revealed something peculiar about Fable, though, it became clear that she and the crew would have to learn to trust one another if she was going to stay alive, let alone find her way back to her father.

I loved so many things about this book.  From the strong female characters, to GLBTQ+ representation, to the fact that it was such a well-paced and adventure-packed story, there are doorways to attract all sorts of readers!  I can’t wait to read the sequel, Namesake (due out in 2021).

Happy Reading!

Mayhem by Estelle Laure

mayhemMayhem is a Brayburn.  That family name meant a lot to the people of Santa Maria, California, but Mayhem herself didn’t really understand the significance of her lineage until she and her mom finally returned to their hometown.  They had left town more than a decade before when Mayhem’s father died, presumably by suicide, and ended up settling in a small Texas town.  And though Roxy was a victim of both emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her new husband, Lyle, that wasn’t the main source of the chronic pain that she always seemed to be trying to escape with booze and pills.  Mayhem had no idea what caused this pain, though, because Roxy refused to talk about it — or, really, about their past at all.

This book is touted by many as a female-led, feminist retelling of The Lost Boys, and that definitely got me interested to check it out in the first place.  As I was reading it, though, I couldn’t help but think of The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones.  Why?  The Brayburn women were very powerful creatures — almost like vampires, but not quite.  They were mysterious and seductive, and absolutely deadly if left unchecked… But they didn’t feed on blood and had an alternative source to their mystical powers.  Does that have you curious?  If so, this is a good book to add to your TBR list.

Happy Reading!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

burn our bodies downMargot didn’t know really know anything about her mother’s past.  All she knew was that she and her mother have seemingly always been on their own.  Her mom never discussed the past, so Margot knew absolutely nothing about the family and/or town from which her mother came.  Their day-to-day struggle to survive was all Margot truly knew.  She and her mother lived in a rundown apartment and had hardly enough to keep on living, though her mom occasionally pawned some of her posessions to get extra money for food or bills.  The weirdest thing was that her mom has a habit of pawning her things and then buying them back — like she just couldn’t bear to part with the physical reminders of her past, even though she refused to talk about it.  So, one day Margot decided to go to the pawn shop alone.  She knew it was against her mother’s rules, but she just had to see if there was anything that would give her any clues about the past. And that was when she found the Bible.

Inside the Bible, Margot found an inscription from her grandmother and a photograph.  On the back of the photograph was a phone number, so she mustered up all the courage she had and called.  After speaking to her grandmother, she decided she was going to make her way back to her mother’s hometown to finally meet and learn about her family…  But, she had no idea the strange horrors that would await her.  This story had one of the most bizarre twists I’ve ever discovered, and it will surely stick with me for a long time to come.  If you enjoy mysteries, horror, and magical realism, you’ve gotta check this story out.

Happy Reading!

This Is My America by Kim Johnson

this is my americaImagine how confused, frustrated, and angry you would feel if your father had been in jail for more than seven years when you knew he was innocent.  At the conclusion of a case based on rumors and speculation, with a stunning lack of evidence, Tracy’s father was sentenced to death row for a double homicide he didn’t commit.  And with less than a year until his pending execution, Tracy was starting to feel desperate.  Because her family didn’t have the money to hire a high powered attorney, she put all her hopes into getting the attention of an organization called Innocence X.  She wrote them letters every single week begging them to take on her father’s case, but it seemed her letters must have been getting lost in the maelstrom of letters coming from other families with the same hope.  And then, something even worse happened…  Her brother, Jamal, is suddenly accused of the murder of a white girl.  Instead of continuing his running career at college the following year, Jamal suddenly finds himself running from the law and running for his life.  Will Tracy’s tenacity pay off now that she is trying to help her brother, or will she discover that it’s impossible to find true justice if you are black and living in a racist Texas town?

I have said it before, and I will say it again. #BlackLivesMatter. Right now, we are seeing a huge surge in protests over violence and systemic racism against black people. I am so happy to see that white allies in all 50 states and in many nations around the world are stepping up and fighting alongside our black brothers and sisters to bring much needed reform to our so-called criminal justice system.  There are a lot of lists of books and movies that are recommended for people who would like to better grasp the reality of American history and to understand the ways that the proliferation of systemic racism is still effecting black people today, and there is no doubt in my mind that this book will join them after it is released next month.

Happy Reading!

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

date me, bryson kellerBryson Keller was the complete package.  Not only was he nice, smart, and good looking, but he was also a jock (a soccer player).  At Fairvale Academy, he may as well have been royalty.  The strangest thing about Bryson, though, was that he hadn’t ever dated anyone.  So, someone came up with a rather interesting dare — that Bryson would have to date whoever asked him out.  Every week, on Monday morning, the first person who asked him out would get to date him for the entirety of the school week and Bryson would have to be their perfect boyfriend.  Though the dare had been going on for months, it was always a girl who asked him out… until Kai Sheridan.  Despite the fact that Kai had never “come out,” and had a crush on a guy named Isaac for a long time, he suddenly felt compelled to ask Bryson out.  There were a couple of things that could definitely go wrong with this impulsive move — not the least of which was being outed before he was ready — but it somehow just felt right.  When Bryson not only said yes but agreed to keep the relationship a secret, I got #AllTheFeels… and I kept right on getting them for the rest of the story.

This was such a well-written story, with characters who felt so real I wished I could meet them in real life.  I don’t know about you, but romantic comedies are probably my favorite way of escaping reality.  There is just something so satisfying about getting an overload of cuteness and humor when it feels like everything is falling down around me in the real world.  If you feel the same way, you’re gonna need to put this book on your #TBR list so you don’t forget to read it when it comes out in May!

Happy Reading!

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

darling rose goldReading stories like this simply makes my heart ache.  I cannot fathom the idea of purposely hurting my child — let alone so systematically and over the course of an entire childhood. The scariest thing is that people with Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP) don’t even see the wrong in what they are doing.  For more information about MSBP, so that you can better prepare yourself for what you will read in this story, I recommend this page from the University of Michigan.

I’m not gonna lie. When I first saw this book, I was leary that it might be a rip-off of a “ripped from the headlines” TV series I had watched [The Act]. In that series, Gypsy Rose Blanchard, was a chronically ill child who, as it turned out, actually had a mother who suffered from MSBP.  Thankfully, though, the rest of this story [aside from the MSBP and the coincidence of “Rose” being a part of her name] stood very much on its own.  Though MSBP could never be truly “understandable” to me, the flashbacks to Patty’s childhood helped me to better understand the factors that contributed to her mental health issues. Likewise, flashbacks to both the childhood of Rose Gold and the time when she was first on her own, after her mother went to jail, helped me to see how Rose Gold had been shaped into the woman she had become and to make the choices she made. Yeah, I am a little hauted by this story. But, I am also eager to see what else Wrobel will publish and hope it won’t be long until I see another book listed on her Goodreads page…

(Disclaimer — This book is technically considered a book for adults, but I see this having crossover appeal for young adults, since the story primarily takes place during Rose Gold’s teen and “new adult” years.)

Happy Reading!

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, illustrated by Manuel Preitano

the oracle codeCan you guess why Barbara Gordon is one of my favorite people in the DC Comics universe?  Aside from the fact that I relate to her as a headstrong, curious, and nerdy girl/woman, I love the fact that Batgirl’s alter ego is a librarian!  In addition to being Batgirl, Barbara Gordon is also known as Oracle — and this graphic novel is an Oracle origin story.

In this story, readers are introduced to a teenaged Barbara Gordon (aka Babs) who becomes paralyzed in an accident.  The accident happens in the very beginning of the story, though, so the majority of the action takes place while Babs is working to recover from the accident at the Arkham Center for Independence.  I appreciated how there was a lot of focus placed on the specific limitations that a person would suddenly experience as a result of a major injury like this and how grueling the physical and occupational therapy regimen would be.  I also appreciated that this information was worked into the story seemlessly instead of appearing as clunky asides.  I’d like to wish a happy book birthday to this awesome story, and also wish for some further Oracle adventures from Nijkamp and Preitano in the near future…

Happy Reading!

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

curses-and-kissesI know I just posted the other day that I would be doing fewer book reviews than normal, but I had to push myself to get this one done for #ValentinesDay!  I don’t know if I have outright said this before, but Sandhya Menon is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA authors.  Between her strong female characters, witty dialogue, character development, and diverse casts of characters, there is just so much to love in Menon’s books!  As soon as I heard that she would be writing a modernized retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which just so happens to be one of my favorite fairy tales of all time, I was sold!  I am so grateful that my request for access to an ARC was granted by NetGalley, because I am not sure how I would have contained myself until this book was officially published.  And how was it?!?  Freaking. Awesome!

Jaya Rao is a princess. Well, kinda.  Hers is one of the “royal” families that still exist even though India is now technically a democratic republic.  To Jaya, nothing is more important than family.  And, ever since the centuries-old feud between the Raos and the Emersons caused her sister to be targeted and slandered, Jaya has been looking for a way to exact revenge on the Emerson clan.  How utterly perfect, then, that she and her sister should be transferred to the same international boarding school as Grey Emerson as they wait for things to blow over. Once there, Jaya expected that she would have plenty of opportunity to get close enough to Grey that she could hurt him as much as his family has hurt her little sister…  But, will even her love for her sister be enough to keep her going with such a nefarious plan?  I won’t tell you how it all ends, but I will gleefully report that it is the first book in a series that, according to Goodreads, is a planned trilogy!  #squeeeeeeee

Happy Reading!

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

rogue princessPrincess Delia was not exactly thrilled with the prospect of choosing a husband, but she knew better than to expect an opportunity to marry for love (even if she wished, deep down, that she could). Her mother, the Queen, invited a bunch of princes from neighboring kingdoms/planets for a visit in an attempt to arrange a marriage that would be beneficial for their kingdom/planet, since they were experiencing a devastating energy shortage.  When Delia tried to run from the palace on a “borrowed” royal ship, she ended up meeting Aidan — a thief who thought his most recent acquisition might help him to get enough money to get off the planet and escape his own dreary life. While they were not exactly the dynamic duo you would put together if you had a chance to plan a match, something clicked quite nicely between them.  They were both just so clever and determined that it came as no surprise when they quickly uncovered a rebel conspiracy that threatened the planet… but would they be able to continue working together if Delia discovered that Aiden wasn’t who he claimed to be (a bodyguard for one of the visiting princes) when they first met?

If you enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, I highly recommend you check this out.  While the story is definitely very different (i.e. not at all a rip-off), they share a similar vibe and I can’t imagine anyone who liked the Lunar Chronicles not enjoying this gender-swapped, sci-fi retelling of Cinderella.

Happy Reading!

Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

nameless queenIn Seriden, bloodlines do not determine the passing of the crown.  Anyone can become the next ruler.  Well, mostly anyone.  All that is required is for the king to speak their name before he dies.  So, that means the Nameless — the bottom rung in a three-tiered caste system consisting of Royals, Legals, and Nameless — are out of the running.  Pretty much everyone assumed that the king would name his daughter to be the successor, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  No one will know for sure whom he has chosen until that person chooses to reveal the magical tattoo that appeared on their shoulder after the king died.  This is where it gets super weird, though… because Coin suddenly has this tattoo.  Coin is the name she goes by on the streets, but that is just because the Nameless have to have some sort of a way to identify one another.  (She was an orphan who was raised on the streets and likely ended up with her nickname because she was a good pickpocket.)  How in the world, then, could the king have named her his heir if she doesn’t even have a name?  And how will this tattoo be anything more than a death sentence, since the Royals and Legals will surely oppose a Nameless ascending to the throne and will likely to anything in their power to transfer the magic of the tattoo to themselves?

Though there is always the possibility of a sequel, this book was technically written as a standalone, so you won’t be stuck waiting 5 years to see how it all ends!  Aside from the ability to find out how it all ends, I also really appreciated the way this author explored class and how it relates to power and politics.  Want a book with a powerful female protagonist to give you a little inspiration heading into the new year?  Look no further!

Happy Reading!