The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes Review

The Arsonist by Stephanie OakesThe Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Publisher: Dial Books (PenguinTeen)

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Pages: 493

Summary:It starts with a fire. A diary. A murder.

Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, she doesn’t believe that her mother killed herself three years ago. And since her father is about to be executed for his crimes, Molly is convinced that her mother will return to her soon. Finally, the hole in her heart will stop hurting.

Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with serious girl problems and the most embarrassing seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer…or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly and Pepper are tasked with finding Ava’s murderer, they realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Arsonist is a thriller, mystery, historical-fiction, and coming of age all in one! With such depth to the main characters, threads of mystery that weave together so perfectly, and surprises at every turn, Oakes novel will have you immersed in this brilliantly crafted story! 

Having been such a huge fan of Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly, I knew I wouldn’t miss out on her upcoming books! Though while this one has a lesser rating compared to her 1st book, I still really loved it and had such a fun time reading it!

We follow 3 differing POV’s that all end up weaving together in such a way, you don’t expect! I know as I saw all the pieces coming together, I found the twists and turns of the story to be so well done and left me surprised!

Told through essays (Pepper), letters (Molly), and diary entries (Ava), the story unfolds in such a unique and interesting way!

Starting with Molly Mavity, she’s somewhat of an outcast at school and knows she’ll never really fit in. Her father is a convicted arsonist and currently in jail and as for her mother, is dead. But Molly believes she’s still out there somewhere and is waiting for her return.

Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef is just trying to graduate high school, so he’s given an assignment by his counselor to write essays about each of his classes.

And Ava Dreyman, a girl living in East Germany who, along with her family resist the Stasi rule and hope to one day be free of the Berlin Wall.

Molly and Pepper soon team up when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of what happened to Ava Dreyman.

They find themselves reading her diary titled The Arsonist, visiting people from Ava’s past, traveling to Berlin, and forging a complex friendship along the way.

What I loved about Pepper & Molly so much, was the complex but underlying strong friendship that forges between them as they try to solve the mystery. While Pepper later admits he could possibly imagine a nice relationship between them, he also states their friendship was so much more important and I loved that!

Its clear throughout the novel, that they both feel pretty lonely and really want someone to connect to, feeling like they don’t really belong. Seeing just how alike they are through their POV and seeing them slowly forge their friendship was so beautiful!

Through Ava’s POV we see just how independent and brave she is, when she’s forced to leave her home in East Germany to avoid the Stasi from capturing her. She grows and undergoes so much pain and betrayal when she must leave her family and her home behind. While I loved each of the POV’s equally, her’s was just filled with so much pain and heartache that you just feel so connected to her story and want to see her be reunited with those she loves and be free.

We also get so much depth to her as we see how these traumatic events from her being forced to flee her home, to seeing her members of her family put in danger & even killed, to the betrayal she endures and how it just causes her to become a shadow of who she once was.

I wish I could put into words the complexity of the story, but truly can’t. There’s just so many brilliant points that bring these characters together in ways you just don’t see coming!

What I found made me difficult to truly rate this book a 5, was the writing-style. While I loved that it truly gave you such depth into each of the characters minds and their personalities, I couldn’t help but feel that other aspects fell a bit short. From the setting descriptions to some side characters, they weren’t given as much depth as I would have hoped, which did make it a bit difficult to truly immerse myself in this book. Additionally, the story does get slow paced throughout and due to its length did drag a little bit at some points.

Aside from that, what the writing-style brings that really makes the book stand out and truly shine, is the uniqueness of each POV and how its just brilliantly executed.

There were definitely a few side characters that I felt truly were given such depth and you felt you really knew them by the end of this novel. To start with, Pepper’s father, as we learn what brought him to the U.S. and the heartache he also endures with the loss of his wife, Lido, a friend Ava makes who allows her to find hope again when she finds herself mistakenly put into a mental institution, and Heinrich Werner, a Stasi officer who is in charge of eliminating those who rebel against current republic or attempt to flee.

Overall I highly recommend this book if your looking for a unique mystery that really delivers complex and interesting characters, while keeping you putting pieces together till the very end!

The Arsonist is a uniquely woven tale that brings in mystery, coming-of-age, historical fiction, as you follow 3 distinct POV’s that bring to life such unique and memorable main characters! With such deep underlying messages about family, fighting for what you believe, and the depths of love and loss, Oakes The Arsonist, is not one to miss!

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Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco Review

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri ManiscalcoHunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (SJTR #2)

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Pages: 434

Summary: Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Hunting Prince Dracula takes you on another murder mystery, this time set in Romania as detective duo Audrey and Thomas head to a school of forensics! Maniscalco’s writing builds an atmospheric setting and keeps you in suspense as you follow Audrey on her adventure to solve another case!

While I didn’t rate this higher than book 1, rating aside, this was still a great book! Hunting Prince Dracula, immerses you from the start as Audrey Rose Wadworth and Thomas Cresswell are in Romania on a train, headed to compete for the few remaining spots at the Academy of Forensics and Medicine.

However when a murder on the train continues to lead suspicion about the infamous Vlad Dracula’s return, Audrey and Thomas feel this may be one of their darkest mysteries to date!

What I loved about Hunting Prince Dracula so much was the rich and expansive history, Maniscalco weaved into the story from the Romanian folklore to the legends and tales surrounding Vlad Dracula! Before deciding to read this book, I had actually watched an interesting documentary about Dracula recently and was able to recall a lot of the info from it in this book which was really cool to revisit in this book + even learn some new tidbits of fascinating history + folklore!

Audrey Rose is dealing with the aftermath of the events in Stalking Jack The Ripper and essentially over the course of the story finds her strength to continue doing what she loves while accepting what happened and is determined to claim one of the limited spots in the academy! Her determination never wavers even as guys at the academy question and doubt her, she never once backs down!

We learn much more about Thomas which was great + it was great to get even more into Audrey’s head too as we follow grief, mystery, and so much more that she tackles throughout Hunting Prince Dracula!

Maniscalco’s 1st person POV allows us to brilliantly explore this dark addition to the Stalking Jack The Ripper series, from the clues that leave us unsure of who to trust to following Audrey’s inspiring journey to pursue what she loves no matter what gets in her way! Mansicalco also continues to build such a detailed and immersive atmosphere into this novel which really makes for a setting and tale that really come to life!

And what made this novel such a perfect December read was the vibrant winter setting!

What I really love about this series so much is how Maniscalco really tackles this genre of mystery in such unique ways to deliver a new, interesting, and complex strings of murder and mystery that weave together + overall just brings such heart to her stories!

She builds plot twists, mystery, and suspense so well and I will continue to be on the look out for the next book!

As for diversity, we have Audrey Rose who is biracial (white + Indian) and there was an f/f romance introduced, that weaves throughout the story!

Now as for why I didn’t rate it as high as I’d I hoped…For me I did find the pacing to be much slower than in Book 1 and found the beginning to be rather slow to get through. And there were certain aspects about Thomas’s character (in relation to how he handles Audrey admitting her worries/fears to him) that had me feeling like he wasn’t the same as he was in SJTR. While there were so many great elements to this book, overall it just felt like a 4-star read to me.

Aside from that, I will continue to love this series with all my heart with Audrey and her unwavering determination to the new and interesting mysteries, she and Thomas unravel!! (Plus it was also recently announced to be a 4-book series! ❤ )

Hunting Prince Dracula is a brilliant addition to the Stalking Jack The Ripper series! Following a much darker mystery, Maniscalco continues to deliver on the detailed setting to her brilliantly complex characters and plot that all weave together in such a way that will leave you wanting to read even more adventures from the brilliant and witty duo of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell!

M.F.K.: Book One by Nilah Magruder Review

M.F.K. by Nilah MagruderM.F.K.: Book One by Nilah Magruder

Publisher: Insight Comics

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Pages: 129

Summary:A fantastic adventure following the story of Abbie, a deaf girl with a mysterious power, who is traveling across a vast desert to scatter her mother’s ashes.

In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity.

This story is not about that youth.

It’s about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter’s Spine and scatter her mother’s ashes. But the way is filled with sandstorms, wild beasts, and rogues that wield inhuman powers and prey on poor desert dwellers. When one of these rogues threatens the town where Abbie takes refuge, she must choose between running, or unleashing her own hidden power to meet danger head-on.

Journeys are hard on the social recluses of the world. 

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: M.F.K.: Book One is an intriguing graphic novel with a delightful cast of characters, colorful + wonderfully illustrated artwork, and sets up for an epic-fantasy adventure in future volumes!

Magruder’s M.F.K. immediately pulled me in with the vibrant and rich colors and the unique desert setting!

The story starts with Jamie and his grandfather gathering sand during a sandstorm on the outskirts of their desert town of Little Marigold.

Jamie soon spots Abbie, a young girl who’s carrying an urn of her mother’s ashes & is making a journey across the desert to scatter them. While joined by her Moa (giant bird), Abbie has been gravely injured and is in need of medical attention.

Abbie wakes to find herself being cared for by Jamie’s aunt, Nifrain. While spending her time recovering, she learns about the town + Jamie & his family.

It turns out the residents of Little Marigold have been constantly bullied by Parasai (or those with supernatural abilities) and are forced to give goods to them or risk their anger.

She quickly sees just how rudely they treat the residents and we soon learn that she herself is a Parasai that’s gone rogue!

M.F.K. is such a diverse graphic novel, from the cast being characters of color to our main character Abbie who uses a hearing aid! I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel with a deaf main character before & it was just so great to see that representation! 

The plot itself is slow but in a way that really works with the story. Based on the summary it very much gives a broad scope of the overall story, and having finished M.F.K., its obvious there’s a larger story in the works.

I absolutely loved all the main characters introduced! They are really given such depth and you feel you know them just from this 1st volume! From Jamie with his optimistic and upbeat personality, to the differing sides of aunt Nifrain. I also really loved Jamie & Nifrain’s comedic sides & the banter/friendship that develops between Abbie & Jamie! ❤

We learn much more about Jamie and his past (where his parents are & how he hopes to one day go on adventures) as he and Abbie get to know each other better while she recovers to continue on her journey!

 The main fantasy elements are expanded on nearing the end of the story and while its very much an introduction, I did want a little bit more background to how they came about. 

This is really wonderfully developed and immersive graphic novel that had me eager for the next one as soon as I reached the end! It does have its emotional and somewhat dark moments, but definitely has an upbeat adventure feel throughout & its comedic moments! Overall it just left me captivated and intrigued in this fantasy world!

M.F.K.: Book One is a vibrantly colored and illustrated story, with an intriguing  plot+ fantastic cast of characters that immerse you from the very beginning! If your looking for a diverse, comedic, magical, and mysterious graphic novel, M.F.K. is one to definitely check out!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum Review

The Wicker King by K. AncrumThe Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Publisher: Imprint (FierceReads)

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Wicker King is a dark and thrilling mystery that will keep you immersed and on the edge of your seat! The lyrical and raw writing delivers such emotion and conveys a dark and gritty atmosphere of mystery and suspense!

From the summary, I knew The Wicker King would be an intriguing mystery, but there were so many elements that surprised me and I became so invested into the world, plot, and characters!

Set in 2003, we follow August and Jack have been long time friends, since they were kids. Now as the years passed, they have their own friend circles, but outside of school still manage to maintain their deep and complex friendship.

There are also side characters, such as Rina + twins Roger and Peter, play a much more central role in Jack and August’s story as it progresses. Though for me personally a lot of the other minor side characters weren’t as developed as I would have hoped.

Then Roger suspects that Jack may be losing sight of reality and implores August to help his friend. As August begins to find out for himself, he soon learns more about Jack’s alternate fantasy with magic, monsters, and a quest, which tells of a prophecy only they can fulfill!

There’s discussion of co-dependency between Jack and August as its clear that Jack is very much in control of the dynamics of their friendship. While August wants to ensure Jack’s well-being, he can’t help but continue to feel obligated towards him and keep their relationship from fracturing.

Ancrum explores the dark and complicated elements of their codependent relationship and how it above all, impacts August the most.

The lyrical and vivid 3rd person POV flows perfectly with the overall dark and mysterious tone of the story, while really allowing you to see the characters (especially Jack and August)  in such a unique way, focusing more on their inner psyche and unique sides to their character.

What also brings so much more to the novel is the format of the novel! With pages going from light to dark as the story progresses, which was brilliant and further conveyed how the story grows into a much more complex, darker, and mysterious tale! There’s also additional illustrations, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc. all which really add more depth & an intriguing element of mystery!

Both August and Jack are developed so well that you really understand whats going on their heads through the short, but impactful sentences and chapters.

While this is a pretty quick moving mystery-thriller, its done in such a way where it slowly descends and unravels into a darker tale as the story progresses.

Arcum delivers dark mystery and suspense so perfectly! Alongside the quick, emotional and raw writing-style, it just brings together the plot and intricacies of August & Jack so perfectly!

From just such few sentences, we know about Jack & Augusts parents and how their neglect for their kids really impacted them and caused them to rely heavily on each other. (With Jack’s parent’s absence & August’s mother’s depression).

Mental Illness and health slowly gets weaved into the story and really cements itself into the story as it progresses.

As for diversity, we have one of our main characters August Bateman who is biracial and bisexual (as is Jack) and a GLBT+ relationship that clearly develops among Jack and August.

The story is brilliantly plotted and honestly had me up late reading just to unravel the mysteries of this book and the fascinating characters, August and Jack.

With twists, dark and atmospheric writing, discussion on mental health,  brilliantly crafted main characters, among other fantastic elements, The Wicker King is a perfect mystery read!

Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott Review

Gray Wolf Island Tracy NeithercottGray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

Publisher: Knopf BYR

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 336

Summary:Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.

With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.

As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Character-driven, chilling, and atmospheric, we follow Ruby as she sets out with a task to find the fabled treasure on Gray Wolf Island! With a beautiful writing-style, fantastic cast of characters, and both mystery + adventure with every page, you’ll be immersed as you uncover the secrets woven throughout the story!

What I loved about Gray Wolf Island so much, was how the descriptive and atmospheric writing-style really brought setting and characters to life! It really builds the setting, emotions, and depth to the story!

Ruby Caine lives in the sleepy town of Wildewell, where rumors and theories about the treasure on Gray Wolf Island are always churning. Her twin sister Sadie has been passionate about finding the treasure and Ruby knows it. So, sadly when Sadie passes away she leaves Ruby with a task, to discover the treasure she could never find.

So one year later, with the present grief of losing her twin, she still keeps the promise in the back of her mind. When by a chance of fate, browsing the public library with Doris, the elderly woman she’s in charge of looking after at the town’s nursing home, she finds a copy of Treasure Island with a poem which reads much like a riddle, that she believes will help her find the treasure and honor her twin sister.

From there she enlists the help of Elliot Thorne, a wannabe bad boy who comes from a long-line of treasure hunters and the knowledge that could help Ruby on her adventure. He then gets his friends, Gabe Nash and Charlie Kim to tag along on the adventure. When Doris finds out about the treasure hunt and that they need a boat, she tells the group that her granddaughter Anne Lansing would be a great addition to the team.

Then the 5 set out to uncover the mysteries woven throughout the poem and find the treasure!

The characters we’re all written so well! Through the descriptive and beautiful writing, they really come to life through Ruby’s POV. Another great addition to the mystery and depth of the story, was the 2nd POV introduced early on, which follows a boy who wakes up on Gray Wolf Island with no memory of how he got there or who he is, and how his journey ties to the overall story of Gray Wolf Island.

The plot itself carries a lot of mystery as we find out more about the history of the town of Wildwell, Gray Wolf Island itself, Ruby, her team, and the secrets some carry with them.

With such a unique plot, I kept making connections and figuring out just where this mystery was headed with each turn of the page! I fell in love with each of the main characters: Ruby, Sadie, Elliot, Anne, Charlie, & Gabe!

The connections these characters have with each other was so well written and you really become connected with them through the unique and atmospheric writing. You feel like you know so much about them with such few lines.

Gray Wolf Island also really develops on important themes such as family, friendship, grief, and acceptance. While also having humor and balancing dark and lighthearted moments so well!

I loved the banter between Ruby and Elliot & the beautiful friendship between Anna & Ruby! Also having a twin myself, it was so easy to connect with Ruby and understand the grief + loss that she felt so deeply and the duty she held to honor her sister’s wishes.

It was also great to see diversity within this novel. There’s Charles Kim, who is Korean, Anne Lansing & Doris, who are Native American. The town itself is also discussed throughout with some Native history. This novel also heavily incorporated elements of magical realism (If you’ve read this novel or are planning to, I would also recommend checking out Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty).

As the novel progresses, the team gets into the web of mystery as they attempt to find the treasure and encounter some trouble along the way, when its revealed they must reveal secrets as the journey continues.

My only issue was that while the story flowed so well, nearing the end, it felt much slower for me personally and the end felt rather rushed. 

The mystery really comes together as you discover more about these characters and the island! The plot really goes in directions you don’t expect and has such great twists when you learn more about the island and its treasure!

Gray Wolf Island is a unique, atmospheric, and magical tale with twists, turns, and really focuses on the friendship and adventure that Ruby has as she attempts to find a mysterious treasure to honor her twin sister! The plot, vivid setting + writing, and characters will stay with you long after the final page!

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Fall}

Diverse YA Books To Add To Your TBRBack in January I made a post sharing Diverse Books for a Winter TBR where I shared books releasing that season which featured YA Books by authors of color, #OwnVoices, had LGBTQIA+ characters, or featured characters of color! Sadly I didn’t make one for Spring + Summer as I’d been planning to, but in 2018 I will definitely make an effort to do a list for each season~

Now I will share with you the diverse books coming out/already released this Fall that I’m super excited to read (or one’s I’ve already read & Loved! <3)  that you should add to your TBR if you haven’t already!

Similar to the first post, they’ll be categorized by genre + release date~

I’m hoping to put as many as I can, however if there are any YA Books I’ve missed or one’s that you’ve recently heard of, definitely leave a comment below so others can add it to their tbr too!

Contemporary

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera1.They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Harper Teen

Summary: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins2.You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Summary: Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes3.The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes

The Victoria In My Head ARC Review

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary: Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman4. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta5. Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary: Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo6. A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers

Summary: The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos7. Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Summary: In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone8. Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Crown BYR (Random House)

Summary: Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez9. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Knopf BYR (Random House)

Summary: Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal? 

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani10. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

Release Date: October 24, 2017

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Summary: Taja Brown lives with her parents and older brother and younger sister, in Houston, Texas. Taja has always known what the expectations of her conservative and tightly-knit African American family are—do well in school, go to church every Sunday, no intimacy before marriage. But Taja is trying to keep up with friends as they get their first kisses, first boyfriends, first everythings. And she’s tired of cheering for her athletic younger sister and an older brother who has more freedom just because he’s a boy. Taja dreams of going to college and forging her own relationship with the world and with God, but when she falls in love for the first time, those dreams are suddenly in danger of evaporating. 

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga11. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Balzer +Bray

Summary: Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Fantasy

Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao1.Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (Rise Of The Empress #1)

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Philomel Books

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi2Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Release Date: October 31, 2017

Publisher: Razorbill

Summary: In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life. 

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne3. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Summary: A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

Magical Realism

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore1.Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty ARC Review

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Summary: Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry2. All The Wind In The World by Samantha Mabry

All The Wind In The World Book Review

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Summary: Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

Science Fiction

Warcross by Marie Lu1. Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

Warcross ARC Review 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh2.Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Publisher: Lee & Low Books (Tu Books)

Release Date: September 14, 2017

Summary: After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Historical Fiction

The Girl Wth The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke1. The Girl With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Publisher: Albert Whitman Company

Release Date: September 1, 2017

Summary: When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process. 

August 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Warcross by Marie Lu1.Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

Warcross Full ARC Review

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Pages: 368

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: Warcross was a masterpiece from start to finish! Emika is a bounty hunter and hacker! When she finds a way to hack herself into Warcross, she soon gets a call from its creator Hideo Tanaka. He needs her help to ensure the safety of Warcross from a possible hack and soon she’s in Tokyo taking part in Warcross herself. This book did not let me down! Marie Lu did a fantastic job with pacing, world-building, character development (+such a diverse cast <3), everything! Being a gamer myself, I loved the references and was immediately hooked from page 1! Warcross had the perfect amount of intrigue, action, and immersive plot +setting! Highly recommend picking up Warcross ❤ ❤

The Royal Tutor Volume 1 by Higasa Akai2. The Royal Tutor Vol. 1 by Higasa Akai

The Royal Tutor Volume 1 Full Review

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: May 23, 2017

Pages: 192

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: The Royal Tutor easily became one of my new favorite manga series! It was fun, fast-paced, and so funny! Following Heine, this 1st volume centers around him meeting the princes and securing his role as their new tutor. The princes are all very different, so Heine learns more about them and how he can get them to accept him. Loved it so much & can’t wait for Volume 2! ❤ ❤

The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave3. The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Island At The End Of Everything Full Review

Publisher: Chicken House

Release Date: May 4, 2017

Pages: 288

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This was a tale I won’t forget! Hargrave used such a poetic and lyrical 1st person POV that brought settings and characters to life. Taking place in 1900’s Phillipines, we follow Ami and her journey to return to her mother on Culion Island. They have been separated due to the spread of leprosy and a government official forcing those w/ + without leprosy to be separated and forced onto another island.  The Island At The End Of Everything is a tale of friendship, family, courage, and finding your way home!

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire4.Down Among The Sticks And Bones (Wayward Children #2)

Down Among The Sticks And Bones Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 189

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: This novel sets as more of a prequel and follows Jack & Jill (twin sisters) who are introduced in Every Heart A Doorway. Their parents have their own selfish desires for how they want their “perfect child” to be and because of that the twins undergo a journey wanting to better understand who they are when they get transported to the Moors. It was dark, whimsical, and atmospheric. While there was a large reason this book really resonated with me, I had some sort of disconnect with the writing (for me there was more showing than telling at times) and felt I loved the 1st book a little more. However, I will definitely be reading the final book to see how it wraps up!

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill5.Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Princess Princess Ever After Full Review

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 56

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: This is sweet + diverse middle grade story that follows 2 princesses falling in love. Princess Sadie is trapped in a tower and when Princess Amira hears her call for help, she comes to the rescue. Soon after, the 2 travel across the kingdom in search of others to save and embark on an adventure. O’Neill puts clever twists and spins on classic fairy tale tropes and I loved that! There’s so many inspiring & positive messages in this novel, which is both fun and fast-paced!

Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody6.Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Daughter Of The Burning City Full Review

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Sorina soon realizes her illusions are starting to get killed off, so she begins to investigate and figure out why. Foody delivers such a unique and creative concept and that is what I loved about DOTBC so much! I love reading from Sorina’s POV, getting the circus/carnival atmosphere, and was happy to see differing sexualities among the main cast! However, I felt the world-building could have been developed a little more and much was mentioned and not really expanded on. Regardless, there’s mystery, magic, politics, and a little romance dark and immersive debut!

Additional Posts From This Month:

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What books did you read this month? 😄📚✨