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. 

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Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill Review

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'NeillPrincess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 56

Summary:When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.

Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: This fast-paced fairy tale follows 2 princesses and their adventures across a kingdom. Not only are there so many positive and inspiring messages in Princess Princess Ever After, but O’Neill also puts twists and spins on fairy tale tropes!

I loved this graphic novel ❤ it was pretty quick, but adorable!~ I also felt myself getting into another reading slump, but Princess Princess Ever After, pulled me right out of it!

The story begins with Amira who is traveling across the kingdom when she hears Sadie from her tower and decides to rescue her from her tower.

“Dozens of princes already failed. What makes you any different?

Because I am no prince!”

From the very beginning its clear that there is a connection between Princess Amira and Sadie! They develop a great friendship as they leave the tower and travel across the kingdom.

Princess Amira is shown to have dark skin, while Sadie is shown to be “big-boned” and obviously there is a sweet relationship that develops between the two over the course of the story.  It was great to see tons of diversity!

Its revealed that Sadie sabotaged all those who would attempt to rescue her because she was told by a sorceress to never leave.

Not long after, they meet Prince Valdric who needs their help to get revenge on an ogre (who also managed to destroy a village nearby). After its discovered that the ogre was just dancing, Sadie and Amira spend the day teaching the ogre to dance more safely to avoid destroying anymore villages.

What I loved about this story was the twist and spins O’Neill put on classic fairy tale tropes. Its revealed that Prince Valdric feels there’s a lot of pressure on him, by his family to be the type of prince who slays monsters, etc., but reveals that isn’t who he really is, or wants to be.

When the sorceress returns to take back Sadie, she takes Amira instead and its revealed that the sorceress is actually Sadie’s sister (the current queen). After they save the day, Sadie takes the throne, but it will take time before she can fully take on her role.

As for Amira, she knows she still needs to learn more about what it means to be a hero. Sadly the two spend time apart for quite a number of years.

However, by the end they’re reunited and have their happily ever after.

There were so many positive/inspiring messages in this story about body image, gender, and what it means to be a hero.

I also really love Katie O’Neill’s art style and cannot wait to read her next webcomic turned book: The Tea Dragon Society (which I’m still currently reading & love so much ❤ <3)

I did want to the story stretched out a little longer, because it felt the pacing was just a little too quick. And I really wanted to see more of these amazing characters.

Overall Princess Princess Ever After is a cute and sweet fairy tale of princesses falling in love. It features such inspiring and positive messages, creative spins on classic fairy tale tropes, and is a great read for fans of graphic novels and comics. 

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire Review

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuireDown Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 189

Summary: Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Dark, gothic, and atmospheric, Down Among The Sticks An Bones is a a prequel which follows twins Jacqueline & Jillian and their adventures in the Moors set before the events of Every Heart A Doorway!

What I love about this series, is how McGuire is able to pack in so much story and character depth into such few pages! Every Heart A Doorway was just so unique and magical, I was happy to be getting more tales from this world💖~

Having a twin sister myself, I was beyond heartbroken at the forced separation that Jack & Jill were grown into from the very beginning and seeing the rift between them grow with each turn of the page. Reading passages of their resentment and just few feelings they had for each other, left me feeling so sad!

I felt the story started out completely strong with the background on their parents (Serena & Chester) and how their decision to have children really impacted how Jack & Jill would grow and see themselves. It really set the stage and tone for the rest of the story.

With their parents having their own selfish desires for what they wanted their perfect children to be, Lousie Wolcott (Chester’s mother) did her best with the time she spent with them to remind the girls to be themselves and not let anyone control who they want to become.

This quote resonated with me throughout the rest of the story “She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and all of them were valid…(34).

Jack was molded by Serena and forced to be a proper lady in her mothers eyes, while Jill was forced to be more of a tomboy, by Chester. Up until the age of 12, they lived very different lives under the same roof and there was a rift between them because of it.

Later they soon find a doorway that leads them to the Moors and their 5 year journey begins.

Jack and Jill go their separate ways and undergo their own personal journey and we get a better understanding of who they are and how they try to break free of their parent’s molds.

Additionally there is an f/f relationship that develops nearing the middle/end of the novel!

I felt the 3rd person narrative really gave a broad scope at the world and each character in this story, which made it easy to get a sense of each character, Jack & Jill’s home life + their new life at the Moors. However, there’s just something about this novel (from the writing-style) that delivered a more “telling” rather than “showing” at times, which made the novel feel rather flat in some aspects.

While the story really did resonate with me, I couldn’t help but still feel a disconnect through the writing. Additionally, unlike Every Heart A Doorway, I felt this novel’s pacing felt much slower, which took me out of the story.

Honestly I have so many conflicting feelings about this book, because while there’s a lot that I really loved about it, I loved Every Heart A Doorway a little more~ 😭❤️🚪

Aside from those minor issues, there was still so much that I really loved about this novel. The uniqueness of the plot itself, the atmosphere of the world, and I also loved the positive messages about what it means to be a girl.

Down Among The Sticks And Bones introduces a much darker and brutal world compared to the first novella, it also delivers such powerful messages on who we are vs. what we become as a product of our environment.

Through thought-provoking writing, McGuire sets the stage for a dark but whimsical fairy tale-like world where the choices we make impact who we become.

While I had a few issues, I really enjoyed this sequel and cannot wait to read how this trilogy wraps up in Beneath A Sugar Sky!

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie Review

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily SkrutskieThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (TASU #1)

Publisher: Flux Books

Release Date: February 8, 2016

Pages: 320

Summary: Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Abyss Surrounds Us is a YA Sci-Fi that is set in a fascinating futuristic U.S. with sea monsters and pirates! Wonderful characters and its unique setting will keep you turning the page!

I think I just went into this book with completely different expectations (hyping it up in my head) + based on edits and praise I’d heard, I was personally expecting a completely different story than I got! So sadly, TASU did let me down.
However…
I will absolutely be reading the sequel!! I am still very invested in the story and intrigued to see where the plot goes!

Cassandra (or Cas) Leung is a Reckoner trainer who’s worked with her parents her whole life to understand Reckoners (giant + genetically-engineered sea monsters) and use them to accompany ships and avoid trouble with pirates.

However, when she gets assigned her first solo mission, things go very wrong! She gets captured by pirate queen Santa Elena and is forced to train Elena’s own Reckoner pup or face serious consequences!

What I really loved about this novel was the world! Set in our world, the U.S. is now divided among much larger territories, such as the Northern and Southern Republics of California.

In this futuristic U.S. there are now floating cities, pirates, genetically engineered sea monsters! So many great elements were introduced to this world and that is what really set this sci-fi novel apart from other’s that I’ve read. I just loved how focused it was on the science of this world!

Additionally, I loved the diversity! From the main character Cassandra who is Chinese-American + a f/f relationship that develops!

Aside from that, there’s so much girl power + I loved that this novel had a large cast of female characters! Many, such as the girls on Santa Elena’s ship (& Elena herself) were morally grey and it was clear they had so much depth and complexities to their characters! Above all it was just great to see a large cast of females at the center of this novel!

I also really enjoyed the writing-style! I love reading from 1st-person POV, because we learn so much more about the protagonist from seeing the world and everything that encompasses it from their eyes and that really allowed me to connect with Cas along the way as she finds her strength to prove herself as she trains a Reckoner pup for Santa Elena!

Through the writing (perhaps this is just me) it always felt like I was in a piratey-sci-fi! Skrutskie did a fantastic job at creating the atmosphere that really made you feel like you were out at sea with sea monsters, Cas and the crew!!

This was very character-driven story which I really loved too! As the story progressed, I could see Cas changing and growing as she spent time on the ship.

Now as to why my rating is rather low…I was expecting a lot more action and from my personal reading experience I didn’t really get much from the plot, aside from months passing by with Cas training with the Reckoner and some interactions here & there with the crew. Personally I just wanted more :/

Additionally, I wanted more development from the world. While it was discussed in a broad sense, it would have been great to get a more in-depth look at the politics, etc. of this unique setting!

As mentioned above, just because of my personal expectations, I was a little let down and did feel the pacing was rather slow at points (which did take me out of the story).

Regardless…

The Abyss Surrounds Us is a YA Sci-Fi which delivers a wholly unique story with pirates and sea monsters, fascinating characters, and a complex world that will immerse you from page 1!

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire Review

Every Heart A DoorwayEvery Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #1)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 173

Summary: Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Every Heart A Doorway melds fantasy with mystery, delivering a captivating tale with magic on every page!

I’d heard a lot of buzz surrounding this novel and I finally decided to pick it up!

However, I will admit with people raving about this book and seeing tons of 5-star reviews, I went in with super high expectations and while I was let down slightly, overall I’m so glad I read this book!

I adored the diversity, there’s representation from quite a few different ethnicities (Latino, Japanese) plus asexual and transgender representation!

As for plot, I was left surprised with every turn of the page. You could tell magic was weaved within each and every moment of the story. I could picture the character’s Doors/Worlds when they described them and similar to Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, could grasp the history of the boarding school as the story progressed.

The story starts off by explaining Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children, a boarding school where children/teens are sent by their parents once they return from a magical world they transported to at some point in their youth.

In these other worlds, they find themselves and once they return to their own world, they find that returning isn’t as simple. They must tackle and struggle with the sense of loss that comes with leaving their wonderland behind.

The development and idea of the Doors/Worlds, I felt were so relatable because similar to my love for books and stories, there is this connection you get every time your thrust into a new world that is captivating + just captures your heart and wanting nothing more than for them to be real. That was a very powerful message and theme prevalent all through out the novel.

Every Heart A Doorway truly captures the spirit that magical or fictional worlds create for someone and I truly loved that!

Each character (Nancy, Sumi, Kade, Jack&Jill, Christopher, etc.) were all distinct and I could really understand their character within this less than 200-page story!

With each character the bits and pieces of their world became part of them and really gave them such depth and through that I could learn more about what their world was like and how it molded them and became an integral part of them once they left!

Additionally, what added so much to their character was the bits and pieces of their worlds they took with them when they returned, which you could clearly tell through their personality and 3rd person narrative.

I’m usually hesitant with 3rd person because I feel I won’t always grasp each character fully, but I’ve got to admit I truly felt connected to these characters and felt it gave me a broader scope of the world McGuire crafted.

I adored the dialogue and interactions between all the characters! Every time Jack+Jill, Nancy, Kade, Sumi, Christopher, Eleanor & Lundy interacted with eachother, I felt closer to them because I could pickup bits of their personality with each page!

(The banter/connection between them definitely reminded me of the Dregs banter from Six Of Crows/Crooked Kingdom)

My only issues was the slow pacing with the novel once I reached the middle and while I won’t spoil it, the conclusion to the murder mystery left me a little disappointed…

Additionally, there were some moments with the 3rd person narrative that the world-building in terms of the explanation of Nonsense, Logic, Wickedness and Virtue felt like it could have used a little more expansion and depth. However regardless of those minor issues…

Overall Every Heart A Doorway was a short, but immersive story filled with a dynamic cast of characters, fascinating world-building, and the perfect blend of fantasy and mystery to keep you hooked till the very end!

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour Review

we-are-okay-by-nina-lacourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 234

Summary:Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: We Are Okay is a beautifully crafted story which journeys Marin as she encounters grief and solitude coming to terms with events of her past! 

LaCour’s writing-style is what made We Are Okay a captivating read. Her writing style brings out facets of Marin (emotionally) that drives the novel throughout.

While the plot is there, its mainly the emotion evoked through the 1st person POV of Marin that brings a unique aspect to this YA Contemporary!

Told through present and past chapters, Marin recollects on what led her to leave those she loves behind before her 1st year of college. With each and every line, I could feel the loneliness and grief that Marin carried with her!

Additionally, reading from her POV brought such depth and life to the characters, like Hannah, Mabel and her grandfather.

Reading about the loss Marin goes through was difficult at times, because with each page we understood just how alone she felt. However throughout the novel, we learn more about those from her past and that she has a great support system behind her and slowly but surely can find hope.

Because We Are Okay follows Marin in a unique + emotional head-space,  the novel does slow at some points (hence the 4.5) but it gives such insight into her true feelings and emotions which really makes this novel captivating.

There is not only GLBT+, but also Mexican representation which was great!

LaCour also weaves themes of family and friendship which are heavily discussed and explored throughout.

Marin’s struggles and difficulties with opening up to friends and establishing stronger ties with those friends was something I could see in myself. It’s never easy, but reading that Mabel did all she could to reconnect with Marin, was beautiful!!

Marin was a very soft-spoken character (at least from my perspective) and I found that so relatable. There is so much that she considers and ponders in her head, but when putting those thoughts into words, she finds it difficult!

I loved Mabel and Marin’s relationship! It does have its complications, but they have so much history that their friendship and love for each other is clearly seen in the story. They want the best for one another regardless of what happened in the past. There is so much girl-power that I found throughout We Are Okay! Just girls supporting each other through their darkest + emotional moments in life.

Setting was painted so beautifully. I could picture the New York snow and the California beaches as more than just locations in a story,but moments in time and with emotion + atmosphere (both dark and hopeful) that was only possible through Marin’s POV.

As stated above I adored this novel, however because of the way we follow Marin’s POV, the story did slow at times for me.

We Are Okay captures grief, hope, forgiveness, friendship and family.  Through an elegantly crafted writing-style, emotion and atmosphere capture the tone of this novel and drive the story forward as we follow Marin who finds hope in her darkest times!

January 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-review1.Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Uncaged Wallflower Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: An inspiring collection of poetry! Filled with such positivity, Uncaged Wallflower had me hopeful and inspired! It was a spectacular read to start off the new year! Highly recommend!

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roe2.A List Of Cages by Robin Roe

A List Of Cages Full Review

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Roe’s debut is not one to miss! Adam and Julian (Adam’s foster-brother) find themselves meeting again after some time apart! A List Of Cages tells the story of the power of friendship and kindness, even when facing the most difficult situations. This novel is heart-breaking *discusses abuse & neglect* but you will feel so attached to these characters, even the minor ones through Roe’s spectacularly written dual POV.

frostblood-by-elly-blake3.Frostblood by Elly Blake (Frostblood Saga #1)

Frostblood Full ARC Review

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic start to a new fantasy series! Blake delivers great character dynamics which is clearly seen between Ruby and Arcus! History and politics play a huge role in the world. The division/hierarchy between the Firebloods and Frostbloods was wonderfully done and its clear its not all black and white which was one of my favorite aspects! The plot while slow at times, definitely keeps you hooked as you learn more about Ruby and the world she’s in! 

crystal-storm-by-morgan-rhodes-review4.Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Crystal Storm Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 379

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Not the strongest novel in the series in my opinion, however it is very character driven and expands even more on the world/magic Rhodes has built thus far! The slow pacing/plotting and introduction to certain characters/motives really made the tone of this novel feel rather off than previous novels! However, the ending definitely will leave you eager for Book 6!

Take The Key And Lock Her Up5.Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Take The Key And Lock Her Up Full Review

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers such originality to her stories, there are twists and turns you don’t see coming. There are new characters introduced just in this final novel that Carter manages to create so memorably! Grace’s repetitive narrative, lack of side-characters prevalent in previous novels and overly cryptic characters made this novel rather confusing at times due to lack of info which made this a little disappointing! However, Carter ties up the story delivering a satisfying conclusion to Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row!

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silvera6.History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me Full Review

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Told in Griffin’s POV’s  (History & Today) we come to understand how his best-friend  +first boyfriend Theo, died. Through out this novel are themes of love friendship, love/loss + acceptance. Through the writing the characters truly come to life. This is a gem of a story you don’t want to miss!

Additional Posts From This Month:

2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals}

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

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera Cover Reveal

Top 5 Wednesday {#2} Underrated Books

What Books Did You Read In January?  🙂