Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Court of Shadows by Madeleine Roux Review

Title: Court of Shadows
Author: Madeleine Roux
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: House of Furies, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

House of Furies, the first book in this series, was one of my favorite books of last year, so when I found that there was a sequel coming, I was totally stoked. I picked it up from my library, and it’s been sitting in my stack for a while, the gorgeous, dark cover beckoning me even while I read other books. When I was finished with Mirage, I pushed it up to the top of my stack. I don’t know about you guys, but fall always gets me in the mood for horror! School starting, leaving turning, apple cider and cinnamon doughnuts, sweater weather, I could go on. But my absolute favorite thing is to read spooky, creepy books; I love being scared when Halloween is just around the corner. Now, on to the actual review, and I don’t want to give away too much detail about the plot for those who haven’t yet read it.

Court of Shadows begins where House of Furies left off, with Louisa Ditton still trying to adjust to her still new position as a maid in Coldthistle House, which is populated by all manner of ghoulish, dark creatures, and dealing with the consequences of the ending of the last book. Cautiously trying to understand her own origins and master her mysterious, unpredictable powers, things get even more complicated when the devilish Mr. Morningside offers to help her, for a price. But once she begins to dig, she starts to realize that no one is exactly who they seem, not even the people who claim to love her, and the favor that Mr. Morningside asks begins to draw to light a darkness older and more dangerous than anything she’s ever known…


This book was wonderful! Honestly, I almost liked it better than House of Furies. The pacing was breakneck, and I really enjoyed the format of journal entries and drawings throughout; it provided a nice counterpoint to Louisa’s voice, and a lot of background on several characters I knew and a few that I didn’t. And it also helped that there were old, vintage photos before each chapter, giving little hints as to what was going on. I was absolutely spellbound, and I really liked the continuity from the first book to the next. Sequels give me such anxiety; more often than not, they just don’t live up to the original book. But my worries were completely unfounded with this book! It had been a while since I’d read House of Furies, but the writing and pacing were so good that my memory caught up to what was happening after the first few chapters. I really enjoyed the gothic, gory horror bits of this novel too; it was one of the perfect books for me to officially begin my autumn with! And that ending! Oh, my goodness, I need the next book, right now! How am I supposed to wait until next year for the next one? I’m dying here! Madeleine, you’ve got me addicted to your work now, and I can’t wait to read the Asylum series! The bottom line: A dark, gory, meaty sequel to House of Furies, I loved Court of Shadows! Full of familiar characters and several new ones, I can’t wait for the next novel! An amazing sequel to one of my favorite books of last year! Next on deck: Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mirage by Somaiya Daud Review

Title: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Mirage, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found Mirage through a book recommendation list, and as soon as I found an opening in my library stack, I ordered it. It sounded practically perfect: a gorgeously weird mashup of space opera, steampunk fantasy, and forbidden romance. And honestly, it was! Somaiya Daud’s debut novel was like a kind of vicious, too beautiful to be believed fever dream that I never wanted to wake up from. Rife with political intrigue, forbidden romance, killer tension and brutal violence, Mirage captivated me from beginning to end, and I cannot wait for the sequel! This book presents a promising, unique talent that I will be watching the horizon for! A debut unlike anything I’ve ever read before, I will never forget Mirage, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Amani is Kushaila, a member of the oppressed race under the brutal conquer of the people of the Vath. She’s never known her world to be peaceful, to not be torn apart by war. Nonetheless, she lives quietly with her family, longing to write her own poetry and do more than help on her family’s tiny farm. But her life is changed forever when she is abducted by imperial droids, recruited against her will to be a body double for Princess Maram of the Vath. And her life, her family’s lives, depend on her success. But things become even more complicated when she meets Maram’s fiancĂ©, Idris, compelling and handsome and hiding his own deadly secrets. Amani finds herself trapped in a dangerous web of lies, political intrigue, and alliances forged in dark places, and with her life—and the lives of her people—hanging in the balance, she must decide who to trust, because the smallest mistake could lead to even more bloodshed…


This book was such a fun, intense surprise! I really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to see what’s next! Mirage pulled me in from the beginning, wrapping hands around my throat and not letting go until the very last page. The pacing was breakneck, and Amani’s voice was compelling and bright. Full of political intrigue, secret alliances, spies and death threats and steampunk elements, as well as romance that had me swooning and cheering, I loved it so much, every painful step in the journey. I was absolutely amazed, and I loved it. Amani was a great character, strong and sure and resolute in her cause, and her romance with the gorgeous, tender Idris had me weak at the knees several times. I love a good romance! Maram also made a fantastic, amazing villain, especially toward the end. I loved the cast of Vath political players that surrounded them both. I loved, also, the spywork involved in the book; it was one of my favorite parts of the novel. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, it was amazing. The only things I wished were more fleshed out was the worldbuilding and both sides of Maram’s family, but perhaps those things will be elaborated on in future books. Nonetheless, Mirage has become of my favorite books of 2018, and I can’t wait for more from this talented new author! The bottom line: A beautiful, weird and lovely space opera mashed with steampunk and war, I loved Mirage, and I can’t wait for what’s next! Next on deck: Court of Shadows by Madeleine Roux!

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning Review

Title: Sea Witch
Author: Sarah Henning
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book by way of the usual, a book recommendation list. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a few months, and after I was finished with Sadie, I pushed it up to the top. First of all, you guys know that I am a total sucker for fairy tale retellings, and even more so for origin stories. So, when I realized that Sea Witch was a retelling of one of my favorites, The Little Mermaid, I was all over it. Sarah Henning frames the infamous villain, The Sea Witch, as a young woman named Evie, who longs to use her abilities to help her country and people, especially her prince, Niklaus, never mind that she is hiding secrets that could see her killed by her own. Already an outcast and still in mourning for the untimely passing of her only other friend, she is convinced that when a young woman resurfaces from the ocean’s dark waves, it is her Anna, somehow given life many years later. Anxious to rebalance things, Evie searches desperately for a way to make things right, never realizing that the mysterious newcomer has her own secrets to hide, and that when she makes her bargain, she has no idea the precise depth of the cost.


This book was a lovely, dark surprise! Ursula is one of my favorite villains in the Disney canon, so to know that a version of her was getting to tell her side of the story, I was really excited. I was captivated by the prose, and the gorgeous, stark setting held my imagination. I also really enjoyed the way that the book went back and forth between Evie, and events happening in the present, and Niklaus and several other characters serving to provide background and define what happened in the past. Evie was a fantastic character also; the fight between standing alone and longing to fit in really resonated with me, and I adored the way that she plunged headfirst into learning her magic, desperate to save her friend and assuage her guilt in losing her. Nicklaus, Annemette, and the charming, devilish Iker made great foils to Evie, as well as her own father and her aunt. The end was one of my favorite parts of the book, because that’s when it really picked up, especially as far as the magic and spooky, moody atmosphere. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, I was completely blown away! Absolutely amazing! The only thing that really bothered me about this book was that sometimes the characters’ way of speaking was too modern, considering it was supposed to be set in medieval-ish Denmark. Nonetheless, Sarah Henning has penned a captivating, marvelous debut and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next! The bottom line: A retelling of The Little Mermaid from the evil villain’s point of view, I loved Sea Witch, and I can’t wait to see what Sarah Henning has up her sleeve next! Next on deck: Mirage by Somaiya Daud!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers Review

Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I was given an advanced readers’ copy of this book by the publisher, Wednesday Books, and reviewed it. Thanks!

I read Courtney Summer’s latest novel last year, called All The Rage, after hearing several of my book reviewing friends rave about her work, and I loved it. It was absolutely amazing, sharp and hard-hitting and raw, and when I heard that she was writing another book, I put my name in a drawing for an advanced readers’ copy of Sadie and promptly forgot about it. So imagine my surprise when it arrived in my mail! I decided to pick it up and read it, as it came out this week, and oh, my goodness. Sadie is one of the best books of 2018, as sharp as broken glass and just as painful. And to add to it a completely unique podcast to listen to while you’re reading the book? I was totally sold. This book is a total knockout, dark and punchy and painful. There were several times that I had to put it down; this one was hard to get through, honestly. But I’m so glad that I read it; Sadie has burrowed a massive hole in my heart, and I will never forget her. Courtney Summers has utterly outdone herself, has ripped my heart out and torn it open.

Sadie Hunter is a girl adrift after her younger sister, Mattie, was brutally murdered at only thirteen years old. Her only mission is to find the man who took her sister’s life and end it—even if the result is another loss that she cannot survive. Her journey leads her from her home in Cold Creek across the state, consumed by her grief and rage and the unstoppable desire for revenge. But Sadie has disappeared, and a man named West McCray, the producer of a national podcast, is hot on her trail, desperate for answers and to bring her home. But he discovers that every small town hides the darkest secrets, and in his quest for answers, West realizes that there are some things that are perhaps better left buried…


This book was insane. It was brutal, cutthroat, sharp, and dark beyond my wildest imaginings. It’s Courtney Summers’s best work yet. It tore me open, down to the soul, made my stomach turn, made me weep like nothing else, and there were several times when I had to put the book down and walk away, take some time in reality before returning to Sadie’s dark story. It is one of the most horrifying and raw books I’ve ever read, and ninety percent of it wasn’t pleasant. But honestly, that’s the point. I love that Summers is not afraid at all to go right for the jugular and throw back the curtain on the darkest parts of human nature; because, after all, isn’t the whole point of fiction to reflect real life? Even the ugly parts? I also adored the podcast that came with the book from the publisher; it really felt like the story had all kinds of new dimensions because of that. I was ill, the story worming its way into my heart, mind, and soul, going so far as to haunt my dreams. A dark novel about demons, revenge, rage, and the skeletons, both real and imagined, that hide in our closets and our minds, Sadie is nothing less than the literary equivalent of being hit by a semi, and I’m so happy that I read it, even while it ripped me apart. The bottom line: A dark, vicious and brutal novel that pulls absolutely no punches, Sadie is one of my favorite books of 2018—Courtney Summers is a talent that’s not to be missed! Absolutely amazing! Next on deck: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning!

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang Review

Title: The Poppy War
Author: R.F. Kuang
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Untitled Series, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book through a recommendation on Instagram and several magazines that I follow, and I ordered it from my library, given that almost every review on it was glowing. It sat in my stack for a while, and then I realized that it went back to the library today, so as soon as I was finished reading Bookishly After Ever, I pushed it to the top of my stack. It’s been three days, and I’m honestly still not quite sure how to put my feelings into words. Magical, violent, gory and darkly funny, The Poppy War has become one of my favorite books of 2018, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series! Talk about a smashing debut!

The Poppy War opens with Runin Fang, a poor village girl from Tikany, a tiny town where she works as the unfortunate ward of her foster parents, The Fangs, who just happen to be opium smugglers. Wanting out of a forced marriage to a rich old man in her village, Rin plots for escape, and it comes in the form of the Keju, the Empire-wide aptitude test to find the most talent youths for the country’s most prestigious military academy. But once there, she discovers that everyone looks down on her for her low lineage, gender, and dark skin, and even more surprising, that she holds a promising talent for an art that is nearly lost: shamanism. Exploring the depths of her newfound power with an instructor addled by his own demons and psychoactive drugs, she realizes that she is able to, quite literally, summon the gods—gods she thought was nearly nonexistent, or dead. And mastering the power inside her could mean so much more than surviving school at the academy…


This book was absolutely amazing, and a total surprise. First, I’m a total sucker for fantasy. It makes it even better that this fantasy was so diverse; I loved it! The writing was beautiful, sparse and gorgeous and punchy, and I loved the pacing; it felt like this book was going to grab me by the throat and not let go. The worldbuilding was built off of actual Chinese history, and that was so cool; I’m definitely going to be researching that period when I am able. The magic and gods of this book were something that really appealed to me also. I mean, ancient gods and all kinds of magic systems? I am all kinds of here for it! The characters, though, and the world they lived in were my favorite parts of The Poppy War, especially Rin. I loved the way that she refused to let her circumstances cage her into a situation that she never wanted, and the way that she tore to the top of her class in her village and her academy of Sinegard. Jiang, Altan, Nehza, Venka, and The Empress were also great characters; I was breathless as I read this book. It showed the very real horrors of war and violence, and I was absolutely blown away. I loved the way that the point of view bounced from all the different characters, providing perspective on a deeper scale, but it always returned to Rin. And that ending! Oh my goodness, R.F. Kuang, where have you been all my life? The Poppy War was not by any means an easy book to get through, but I loved the journey that it took me on, and I can’t wait for more! The bottom line: A gorgeous, bloody series debut that was beautiful and glorious in the darkest kind of way, I loved The Poppy War! Next on deck: Sadie by Courtney Summers!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira Review

Title: Bookishly Ever After
Author: Isabel Bandeira
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Ever After, book one
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I was browsing my local library and the same day I found The Traitor’s Kiss, I picked up Bookishly. First of all, the cover was blue and so adorable! And I’m such a sucker for book nerd plots. When I realized that I was on my last renewal, I pushed it to the top of the stack after I was finished with Traitor. This book wasn’t perfect; there were some slight flaws, such as verb tense changes in the writing, the pitting of teen girls against one another, and some of the characters were annoying, but overall, it was really enjoyable! I look forward to the next two books in the trilogy, and this was a great debut from someone who obviously loves books, writing, and the written word in general!
Phoebe Martins is a girl who definitely prefers fiction to reality. Occupying herself with books, writing, and knitting, her friends think that she’s closer to an aging grandmother than a teenage girl. And she’s perfectly fine with that. But she also wants a romance straight out of her fantasy books, with a boy who doesn’t give her a second thought. To add even more complications to things, her best friend, Em, begins pushing her toward Dev, a geeky but super cute guy in her class. When sparks start to fly, Phoebe turns to her friends for help, and is thrilled when things start to click with Kris. But she isn’t sure what exactly she wants, and is it possible that her life just might be better than her beloved books?


As I said, this book was really good, especially for a series debut. It was funny, thoughtful, swoon-worthy romantic, and charming. It was very well-written, aside from some errors in verb tense changes; that part of the book had me feeling confused, so much so that I had to go back several times and reread so I understood what was happening. Several characters got on my nerves, particularly Em and Kris. But I really liked Phoebe, and the way that she was so book obsessed! It was adorable. I really liked the pacing, and the way that the book went between her voice and the books that she was constantly reading. I also adored Dev, he was one of my favorite characters in the book. And the chemistry between he and Phoebe was so cute! I was constantly laughing, swooning, or fanning myself. Bookishly Ever After reminded me of why I love romance books! I really enjoyed the ending, and I’m looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy. Aside from some little quibbles, the book was very good. It was a nice break after a heavy book like Traitor. It was light, funny, thoughtful and sweet! It was very nice, even with the mistakes. The bottom line: A hilarious and romantic series debut, I loved Bookishly Ever After, despite some flaws. Next on deck: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang!

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty Review

Title: The Traitor’s Kiss
Author: Erin Beaty
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Traitor’s Circle, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I was browsing in my local library and the cover of The Traitor’s Kiss caught my eye: mint green, adorned with rich roses of many colors, with a sharp, vicious-looking dagger at its center. I’d meant to read it back when it first came out, but it had gotten lost in my ever-growing to be read stack. So I took it home. When I realized that I couldn’t renew it any more, I pushed it to the top of my stack after I finished Brazen. And I’m so happy that I did! Lush with detail, political intrigue, forbidden romance, and unexpected humor, The Traitor’s Kiss was a fantastic, feminist debut, and I can’t wait for The Traitor’s Ruin! Erin Beaty has become one of my new recent debut authors, and I’m excited to see what she’s got up her sleeve next.

Sage Fowler, unlike other young women her own age, does not wish to get married. Fierce, sharp-tongued and the farthest thing from ladylike, she is deemed unfit for matrimony, and instead is apprenticed to a matchmaker, and is charged with wrangling the fine ladies that her mistress retains as clients, often for making political alliances. But she is so much more than she seems: she often spies on her clients in hopes of garnering information, and that also includes the soldiers who escort them across the countries. As whispers begin of a dangerous political uprising that could mean turning the tides of the war, she is recruited by a mysterious, attractive soldier to infiltrate the enemy’s ranks. But the more discovers as a spy, she soon realizes that it is impossible to know who to trust, and she is trapped in a web of intrigue and danger that will determine the fate of her kingdom…


This book was really strong, especially considering that it was a debut. It seemed to jump several genres, combining lots of different elements to make something completely different. Romance, politically charged spy thriller, fantasy: It never seemed to make up its mind, as far as what it was, but that was one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. The pacing was brisk and exciting, and I liked the way that the book bounced between several different characters; it provided a lot of perspective to the different events that were happening. And the romance! Oh, my goodness, I was swooning more than once! I loved Sage, and the way that she bucked society’s mores with fierce defiance, wanting to stay true to herself and do what she wished even while she fell in love. Alexander was one of my favorite characters, too, full of secrets of his own, and a bright conviction to his family and eventually to Sage. And that ending! At times, though, there were so many different characters and countries that I had a hard time keeping track of everything; I wish there had been a reference in the back of the book. Despite some little flaws, I can’t wait to see what The Traitor’s Ruin has in store! Erin Beaty has done a fabulous job with The Traitor’s Kiss. Next on deck: The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Brazen by Penelope Bagieu Review

Title: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World
Author: Penelope Bageiu
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction/Graphic Novel
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

After I finished Down and Across, I wasn’t sure what to read next. Then I spotted Brazen sitting on top of the stack, and figured that a graphic novel would be a good palate cleanser before I moved on to my next novel. Brazen tells the story of many young women who defied the limitations of their times and openly flouted convention. Some of them I knew, and others I’d only vaguely heard of, and still more I had never heard of before. Running the gamut from dancers, art enthusiasts, rappers, activists, performers, and more, Brazen provides snappy snippets of information and combines that with gorgeous, sharp illustrations. This book was wonderful, and I will be seeking out more of Penelope Bageiu’s work as soon as I can, because I’m hooked! I was amazed and inspired, and I loved the prose and the illustrations! Absolutely amazing!


As there were so many women, I won’t be able to talk about all of them, but I’d like to highlight a few standouts. Margaret Hamilton, the woman who portrayed The Wicked Witch of the West on The Wizard of Oz, rejected from being the lead in movies because she was deemed too ugly, and who suffered terrible burns on the set of Oz. Las Mariposas, rebel sisters who worked to unseat a despot ruling over their country. Lozen, the Apache warrior and shaman who helped one of her people give birth on the battlefield. Delia Akeley, fearless explorer who saved her husband’s life on multiple occasions and went on to explore the world after her husband’s death. Agnodice, the world’s first female gynecologist, who went so far as to dress up as a man in ancient Rome in order to practice her trade. Leymah Gbowee, one of the world’s first female social workers, who went on to be an activist and integral in changing women’s rights. Wu Zeitan, China’s first and only female empress regent who ushered in one of the most prosperous periods in her country’s history. Temple Grandin, with one of the world’s first diagnosed cases of autism, animal whisperer and animal rights activist. Therese Clerc, fierce utopian activist who went on to change the whole of France and its women’s rights. Betty Davis, legendary singer and songwriter who went on to change the whole music scene in the 60s. (This one was a particular favorite for me.) Hedy Lamarr, legendary beauty, actress, and inventor. And finally, Mae Jemison, the world’s first black female astronaut. This book was hilarious, wry, beautifully illustrated, and informative, and I loved it! It was nonfiction, but it was so much fun. One of my favorite books of 2018! The bottom line: Funny, smart, snappy, and beautifully illustrated, as well as informative, I loved Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World! Next on deck: The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty!

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi Review

Title: Down and Across
Author: Arvin Ahmadi
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Down and Across was our book club’s pick for August, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it or not. But I also didn’t want to go to book club for the third month in a row without reading the book. So, after I was finished with Summer of Salt, I decided to throw my hesitation into the wind and read it. I was very pleasantly surprised! This might be Arvin Ahmadi’s debut novel, but I’m really hoping that it won’t be his last! A story of grit, rebellion, risks, humor and heart, I loved Down and Across! Hilarious, tender, daring and smart, I loved Down and Across, and I will never forget Saaket Fedorwsi, or his crazy, unexpected trip across Washington DC. One of my favorite books of the year for sure!

Saakat ‘Scott’ Fedorwsi has tried many things in his seventeen years, but the only thing he’s really been good at is quitting. His novel he wanted to write only has three chapters, and the summer internship that his father signed him up for only lasted a week. His best friends seem to have everything figured out, while he himself can’t commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a specific passion. With college application time approaching rapidly, his parents, loving but strict, pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path that will guarantee success. Desperate for help, Scott flees to Washington DC to seek guidance from a psychology professor who specializes in grit, the science of success. He never expects a one day trip to turn into a rollicking adventure. But that’s exactly what happens when he meets Fiora Buchanan, an impulsive and ballsy college student whose dream is to write crossword puzzles. Soon he finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even trying to write crossword puzzles himself. In the process, his eyes are opened to who he really is and what he wants to be.

This book was such a hilarious and thoughtful surprise! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really loved it; Scott snuck up on me and held my heart in his hands as I read! The pacing was breakneck, and I was captivated by Scott’s hilarious, honest voice. I was laughing, crying, and cheering, and his character development was wonderful; I stayed up last night so I could finish it before book club on Thursday night. I loved him, especially considering that he was an Iranian-American. Diverse books for the win, forever! I also really enjoyed the other characters, especially Fiora, Trent, Scott’s parents, the lovely (not) Jeanette, Benji, and Fiora’s quirky group of crossword authors. I really liked seeing Washington DC through Scott’s eyes, and all I can do now is hope that I can see it with my own someday! The ending was really nice, too: It was really true to life. Bittersweet, funny, and heartfelt, I loved Down and Across, and it has become one of my favorite books of 2018! I can’t wait to see what Ahmadi has in store next! The bottom line: A tender, hilarious coming of age story full of grit, heart, and humor, I loved Down and Across! My first book from Arvin Ahmadi and definitely not my last! Next on deck: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu!

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno Review

Title: Summer of Salt
Author: Katrina Leno
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

The first book I read by Katrina Leno was The Half Life of Molly Pierce, and I really enjoyed it, so when I found out that she was writing a brand-new book, I was excited. When I saw it sitting on the new book display at my local library, I snatched it, drawn by the story’s description and cover. Told with Leno’s signature, whimsical prose, wit, and wonder, Summer of Salt is one of my favorite books of 2018. Playful, dark, magical, and mysterious, it swept me away like the ocean waves that surround the tiny island of By-the-Sea, until the shocking, bittersweet ending. I can’t wait until her next book!

Twins Mary and Georgina Fernweh have lived their whole lives on the tiny, secluded island of By-the-Sea. Mysterious magic has run down their bloodline for generations, and Georgina has impatiently waited for her eighteenth birthday, eager to discover her own magical gift, despite the nagging fear that it may never come. Mary has the ability to defy gravity, literally: She can float off of the ground. No one on the island would dare call the Fernweh women what they are, but if you’re in need for a spot of help, they’re usually the ones to ask. No one questions the unusual weather, an insistent storm that is brewing in the skies above the island. No one questions, either, the allegedly three-hundred-year old bird who comes to roost on the island every summer. When tragedy strikes suddenly, though, the Fernwehs’ special talents cast a shadow of suspicion upon them. Over the course of the summer, Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in its many forms.


This book was a really enjoyable, unexpected surprise! When I first started it, I was expecting a light, playful romp with lots of magical realism elements mixed in. And the first half of it was. But the second half was a compelling, dark mystery that had me constantly guessing, full of magic of every kind. Honestly, this was the perfect book to read for the end of the summer: it was bittersweet, beautifully written, magical, funny, and thought-provoking. I really liked all of the characters, including Prue, Harrison, Mary, Aggie, and Penelope, but Georgie was my favorite; watching her develop from a shy, uncertain girl to a self-actualized, strong woman who refused to take no for an answer was a real treat. I also really liked the Fernweh family and the way their family was magical, but just so. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, what a curveball! Absolutely amazing! There were some times when I was frustrated with Mary and several of By-the-Sea’s residents, but overall, this book was really fantastic! One of the best books of 2018! The bottom line: A fantastically magical, whimsical book that was perfect for summer, I loved Summer of Salt! An absolutely gorgeous feat combining magical realism and a gritty mystery! Next on deck: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young Review

Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I just returned from a vacation to Tennessee last week, and after I got some rest from that, I wanted to dive into my book stack again. My husband chose Sky in the Deep as my next book after I was finished with Long Way Down, and I plunged right in, still a little lost after coming back from vacation and trying to find my stride. It wasn’t perfect, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed it. The pacing was breakneck, the prose gorgeous, and I loved the characters, especially Eelyn, whose development was totally captivating. I really enjoyed the way that the plot changed unexpectedly, and I loved the ending. This book was my first by Adrienne Young, and it most definitely won’t be my last. Violent, heartfelt, and fierce, Sky in the Deep was an amazing debut!

Pitched as half Wonder Woman and half Vikings, Sky in the Deep tells the story of Eelyn, an Aska warrior who helps her people every five years to fight an opposing group, The Riki. She hates them, as they took the life of her brother in the last battle. But when she sees Iri fighting to shed the blood of their own people on the side of The Riki, she’s convinced that she can bring him home. But when she is captured in the process of her rescue mission, she discovers that the people who slaughtered her mother, The Herja—a group that was considered stuff of legends to both tribes—have returned, and that she must ally with her brother, his people, and his best friend, Fiske, even as it goes against everything that she has ever believed. Even as she feels her learned hatred beginning to soften. But now the Aska and Riki have a common enemy. But will that be enough to save them all?


As I said, this book was very good! At times it was hard to keep up with the cast of different characters; I wish there had been a reference in the back of the book to help me keep track. But that was really the only problem I had with it. The pacing was breakneck, and Eelyn’s voice was so distinct that I was immediately drawn into her world, of war, sacrifice, and honor. I really liked following her journey, and her character development was really rich and exciting; the way she changed as a person was what sold it for me. I also enjoyed the other characters, especially Myra, Fiske, Eelyn’s father, Iri, Inge, and Runa. My favorite part of it all was how the Aska and Riki put aside their ancient blood feud to please their gods in order to fight a more dangerous enemy. The action and suspense in this book was another big selling point for me; I was holding my breath and frantically flipping pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen. And the romance between Fiske and Eelyn! Talk about slow burn! I laughed, cried, and screamed throughout the narrative; the tension in this book was insane. The ending really wrapped things up, and I was satisfied. I can’t wait for more from Adrienne Young! The bottom line: A gorgeous, fierce and brutal debut, I loved Sky in the Deep! Next on deck: Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno!

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds Review

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Jason Reynolds won my heart last year when he wrote a book for Marvel Press, focusing on Miles Morales, who becomes Spiderman sometime after the classic Peter Parker era. So, ever since, I’ve been seeking out his work. Long Way Down came out last year, and I had to return it to the library twice before I could actually get to it. It was sitting on top of my library stack when I returned from Tennessee for vacation, and before I got ready for the day, I made myself comfortable on the couch and began to read. This book is somewhere around three hundred and twenty pages, and I finished it in an hour and a half. Painful, timely, raw and ripped from the headlines, Long Way Down is unforgettable, and now I’m not sure which Jason Reynolds novel is my favorite. One of the best books of 2017! Haunting, beautiful, and absolutely unforgettable. Honestly, I’m kind of upset that I only just now got to reading it; it’s not hard to see why everyone is talking about this book, and why it won a highly coveted award.

Told in sparse, sharp and snappy prose, Long Way Down tells the story of Will, whose older brother, Sean, was murdered by a gang member in their neighborhood. Or so he thinks. Nonetheless, he’s fixed on revenge, on settling the score. He’s in an elevator, armed with his brother’s gun, headed from the seventh floor, thinking about what brought him to this path of violence, rage, and blood. He knows The Rules. No crying. No snitching. And always, always make retribution a priority. When he gets to the sixth floor, though, he ends up hitting a snag. Buck, his brother’s best friend, steps into the little box, and turns out that he’s the one who gave Sean the gun in the first place. He tells Will to check if it’s loaded, and he discovers that one bullet is missing. As far as Will knew, Sean never even used the weapon. And he realizes that Buck is dead. So how, exactly, is he standing in the elevator with Will? Buck is soon followed by a teenage girl, one that Will has known since childhood. The whole way down, Will is haunted by ghosts, both real and imagined, and he begins to piece together the truth about his beloved older brother’s death, bigger than anything that he thought he knew. And the story might just have an ending, if Will gets off that elevator before he does something he regrets.


This book was, in a word, powerful. It flew, the pacing was breakneck, due to the prose being so short; it finished it in an hour and a half. It’s been two days, and I’m still absolutely amazed. Jason Reynolds is one of my inspirations, because he’s so good at conveying great amounts of emotion in just a handful of words. I can see why this book won an award; it was raw, brutal, timely and shocking, and I loved the narration; I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what was real and imagined in Will’s traumatized, grieving mind. As the book moved forward, I was desperate to see if Will would carry out his bloody deed, or turn back before it was too late. It felt like I was being torn apart from the inside out: the loss and grief and rage seemed to jump off of the page and grab me by the throat until the ending. I loved all of the characters, but Will was my favorite: his voice was so distinctive, and reading his words made me feel like I was internally bleeding. I flew through this book, and the prose, electric and real, is tattooed onto my brain, even two days later. And that ending—oh my goodness! Jaw-dropping. Easily one of the best books of 2017, and I will never forget it. Gorgeous, brutal, sharp and cutting, a tale of family, grief, and revenge, Long Way Down is a great achievement, and I’m in awe, both as a reader and a writer! Amazing! Next on deck: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young!

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas Review

Title: The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Kara Thomas caught my attention last year when I read her sophomore novel, Little Monsters, and loved it. So, when I found out that she was writing a new book that was coming out in July, I immediately put it on hold at my local library. When it came in, there were several holds on it, so as soon as I was finished with Emergency Contact, I pushed it to the top of my stack. I finished it in two and a half days; creepy, more than a little bit claustrophobic, The Cheerleaders was a mystery that I was dying to unravel, rife with red herrings and secrets; It was impossible to figure out who to trust, because everyone has something to hide, and Sunnybrook is a town where darkness hides in plain sight. I’m not sure if I like this or Little Monsters better, but it doesn’t really matter. The Cheerleaders was a dark, frightening mystery that constantly kept me guessing, until the jaw-dropping ending. One of the best mysteries of the year, and I can’t wait to see what Thomas has up her sleeve next!

There are no more cheerleaders left in the small town of Sunnybrook. First, there was the car accident: two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. A few weeks later, the murders followed, two more girls slain by the man next door. The police shot him, and the case was seemingly put to rest. Monica’s older sister, Jenny, was the last to die, taking her own life. Five years later, the faculty and students of Sunnybrook High want to remember the fallen girls, bright candles blown out before their time. But for Monica, moving on isn’t as easy as all that. She longs to forget, for things to go back to the way they were before her life was blown apart by a shattering loss. But she’s sure that there’s something more to the old story, and her world begins to unravel all over again. There are mysterious letters in her stepdad’s desk, a years-old cell phone with texts still on it, and a strange new friend at school. Monica knows that whatever really happened, it isn’t over, and she’s at the center of all of it. The cheerleaders are all gone, but that doesn’t mean that anyone else is safe.


This book was amazing! It wasn’t perfect, but one of the reasons that I love Kara Thomas’s work is that I can never quite figure out who is the bad guy. Chances are good that if I can figure it out before a hundred pages are up, I’m not going to finish, which is why mysteries and thrillers are really hit and miss with me. Monica’s voice was what drew me in, but at times her narration was a little shallow; it was slightly off-putting and took my mind off of the mystery at hand. But nonetheless, Kara Thomas’s third novel delivered, told in sparse, sharp prose, with breakneck pacing and characters that had everything to hide; it felt like secrets were lurking even in the seemingly carefree fabric of Sunnybrook. I was captivated, spellbound, and I was desperate to get to the end, to see who was behind it all. I didn’t really like Monica as a character; she seemed a little poorly drawn in comparison to the rest of the characters in the book, including her parents and sister, the mysterious texter on Jenny’s phone, Ginny, who has her own secrets even as she helps Monica solve the mystery of her sister’s death, Carly, who was friends with several of the deceased cheerleaders, and Brendan, Monica’s old flame in the wake of Jenny’s suicide. Nonetheless, this book was fantastic, and true to form, I had no idea who had done everything; when I did find out, I was thrown for a loop. Explosive, dark, and frightening, this book had me questioning everything: How well do we really know our loved ones, friends, and neighbors, and even ourselves? I was blown away by The Cheerleaders, and Kara Thomas has cemented her place as one of my favorite mystery authors with it. The bottom line: A twisty, dark thriller that had me questioning everything, waiting impatiently for the other shoe to drop, The Cheerleaders was fantastic, despite the main character being a bit lackluster. Next on deck: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi Review

Title: Emergency Contact
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Penny Lee is a misfit whose high school experience was lackluster, to say the least. She’s friendless and lonely, and her grades were just okay, nothing spectacular; she even managed to land a boyfriend, even if he doesn’t seem to understand a thing about her. When she moves to Austin, Texas to begin college, she’s looking forward to the fresh start, for the opportunity to remake herself and fulfill her dream of being a writer. Sam is stuck, in every way. He works at a cafĂ© and sleeps there also, holding on to the hope that this awful chapter of his life will be the inspiration for an award-winning film. But for right now, he’s only got seventeen dollars in his pocket, a crazy and magnetic ex-girlfriend that he can’t seem to stay away from, and a broken laptop. When Sam and Penny’s lives collide in an explosion of awkwardness, they swap phone numbers and stay in touch through text messages, and soon become inseparable digitally, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams, all without the weirdness that comes with a real relationship. But Penny and Sam soon realize that they may want to actually get to know their emergency contact outside of their phones, even if it comes with more than a few wrinkles.


This is the first book I’ve ever read by Mary H.K. Choi, and I can promise that it will not be the last. She’s written for magazines and wrote comics for both Marvel and DC (Kind of geeked out a little bit over that!), and it shows in her style. The prose was snappy, smart, and witty, and if I wasn’t crying, I was laughing. I was drawn in to the book immediately, and I really liked the way that Choi went between Penny and Sam, providing important and often hilarious details. I also loved the fact that both of them were pursuing a career in a creative field: Penny, writing, and for Sam, filmmaking. (I’m always such a sucker for nerds falling in love!) The format was unusual, but I really liked the way that a lot of the book was communicated through text; it made it go by quickly, and by the time I was invested, I didn’t want it to end. I loved the characters that Choi created: Penny and Sam, of course, were my favorites, but the supporting characters were hilarious too: Sam’s beautiful, careless ex, Lorraine, Penny’s mom, Celeste, and her roommate, Jude, even the prickly, slightly pretentious Mallory. I loved the ending, too; it was bittersweet, surprising, and really true to life. There were also many surprises that I wasn’t expecting; I was really expecting this to be light, but it was shockingly realistic. Emergency Contact is easily one of my favorite books of 2018; I wish I had a copy of my own so I could read it again, this time more slowly. I really loved it, and I’m looking forward to more from Mary H.K. Choi; I’m especially curious about the comics on her impressive resume. The bottom line: A smart, hilarious, and true to life love story that had me laughing, crying, and screaming with joy, I loved Emergency Contact! One of the best books of 2018, easy! Next on deck: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas!

Furyborn by Claire LeGrand Review

Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire LeGrand
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Empirium, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Claire LeGrand and I: We have a bit of a love/hate relationship. The first book I read by her was Winterspell, a dark fantasy retelling of one of my favorite stories: The Nutcracker, and I wasn’t blown away. The idea was better than the execution. But I read that she was writing a new book, a feminist fantasy that was sweeping, scary, and beautifully written, so I ordered it from my library. Honestly, I was very pleasantly surprised. With fantastic pacing, strong, fascinating characters, political intrigue, original mythology, and an explosive ending that had my jaw on the floor, I loved Furyborn, and I can’t wait until the sequel comes out!

Furyborn tells the story of two young women, centuries apart, who hold the ultimate power, the power to either save the world, or doom it entirely. When assassins attempt to take her best friend’s life, who also happens to be the crown prince of the land, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her dangerous and unheard of ability to wield all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only two people able to control all kinds of magic are a pair of legendary, dead queens: The Sun Queen and the Blood Queen. To prove that she is, in fact, The Sun Queen, she is forced to endure seven trials to test her skills. But if she fails, she could lose everything. A thousand years later, the story of Queen Rielle is nothing but legend to the bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When The Undying Empire took over the kingdom, she embraced violence reluctantly, driven to keep her family alive. But when her mother and dozens of other women disappear without a trace, she is forced into a corner, entering a fragile alliance with a rebel captain. And in teaming up with him, she discovers that the evil she always suspected lies deeply in the heart of her home, more terrible than she could have ever imagined. The two women’s stories intersect and bring with them shocking revelations that will determine the fate of their world, and of themselves.


As I said, this book was really surprising. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue, because it took a little while to get into, but I’m really glad that I stuck with it. Claire LeGrand has fully redeemed herself in my eyes with Furyborn. It was a fantasy unlike any others that I had read, and I really enjoyed it. She also gets bonus points for the indexes and charts in the back; it was really nice to have references for when I got lost. The pacing was breakneck, and it didn’t hurt that the prose was beautiful and captivating. Once I really got invested, I was constantly flipping pages, desperate to put the pieces together. Rife with political intrigue, romance, and more than a handful of twists, turns, and secrets, overall, I really liked Furyborn. I couldn’t give it five stars, though, because it took me a little while to understand the intricate worldbuilding, and at times both girls seemed distracted by their own thoughts rather than what was happening around them. But it was the ending that was one of my favorite things; my jaw was on the floor by the end of the book! I can’t wait until the sequel! The bottom line: A meaty, surprising and feminist series opener, Furyborn, despite some minor qualms, is one of my favorite books of 2018, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin Review

Title: A Wizard of Earthsea
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Earthsea Cycle, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

My husband received a recommendation to read this book and begin this series, so he read it before I did it. He enjoyed the story, but the prose seemed a little long-winded to him. I was finally able to get to it in my library stack, and I finished it in a day and a half. Reading this start to The Earthsea Cycle, I can see why the late Ursula K. Le Guin was a legend in the science fiction and fantasy genre. A Wizard of Earthsea is unlike any other fantasy book that I’ve ever read, and honestly, I’m kicking myself for being so late to the party! She was a titan in her genres and I’m awed by her storytelling skills! Despite some slight flaws, I was blown away by the first entry in one of her most famous works. I can’t wait to continue this intriguing, poetic series!

A Wizard of Earthsea tells the story of Ged, who went on to be the most powerful wizard in Earthsea. But this story tells of his youth and rise to power, when he was called Sparrowhawk. Hungry for power, knowledge, and dominion over all, he tampered with the forces of the world without knowing that there was a steep price to pay: In his arrogance, he released an evil shadow upon the world and upset the natural balance of the world. This is the tale of his youth and his quest to right his grave mistake, how he mastered the dangerous and mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and risked death itself to restore the balance of everything.


I really enjoyed this book! It’s essentially a classic in the fantasy/science fiction genre, and I’m really upset that I’m getting to The Earthsea Cycle just now. It was unlike any fantasy book I’ve ever read, and it was really refreshing to be reading about a magical world that’s not in the midst of a vicious, bloodthirsty war. I really liked Ged, a boy whose ambition and pride often gets the best of him; his character development was one of my favorite parts of the novel. The writing was gorgeous, poetic, punchy, and purposeful; I could see what my husband was talking about, with the prose being a bit long-winded, but I didn’t mind it much; it kind of gave the whole book a fairy-tale type of feel. The pacing was really nice; there were lots of action-filled moments, but there was plenty of exciting worldbuilding moments and less tense scenes to nicely contrast with that; it had a really good balance. I really liked the ending, too; it wrapped up a lot of loose ends, but it was still enough to keep me guessing. Unfortunately, there were so many different characters that at times, it was hard to keep up. Nonetheless, this book is definitely a favorite, and I can’t wait to continue this wonderful classic fantasy series! The bottom line: The first book in the bestselling Earthsea Cycle series, I loved A Wizard of Earthsea, and I can’t wait to read the next volume! Next on deck: Furyborn by Claire LeGrand!

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard Review

Title: War Storm
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series: Red Queen, book four
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve had War Storm on my list since before it came out; I was a little late to the party, concerning Red Queen, but I really enjoyed it, and after King’s Cage, I was desperate to finish the series. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a few weeks, and I pushed it to the top of my stack after I finished Dread Nation; I dived in immediately and finished it on Thursday. This review is kind of late, but I had so many feelings that I needed the weekend to process just how I felt. First of all, I just can’t believe that it’s all over; I’m so sad. But I’m also angry, confused, and more than a little upset. I mean… Just ugh! Even now, three days later, I’m still not sure how to put my feelings into words. But here we go. I’ll try not to say too much about the plot, for my readers that haven’t read it yet.

Mare has at last achieved victory, but it comes at a steep price. Cal has walked away from her, feeling that his calling lies with taking the throne of the broken country of Norta. Meanwhile, Maven is ripping the country apart with an ill-conceived civil war. Mare is resolute in her cause: she will overthrow the King of Norta, no matter who holds the crown. But unfortunately for her, a war cannot be won alone, and Mare must side with the man who broke her heart to finally defeat the one who almost broke her completely. Forced to join forces with Cal and his Silver allies, they all present a powerful force. But Maven’s obsession with Mare is so deep and driving that he will stop at nothing to have her, even if it means destroying everything. War is on the horizon, and everything Mare has risked hangs in the balance. Will she win the war at last? Or be silenced by her own demons forever?


This book was, in a word, intense. The pacing was breakneck, the political intrigue breathtaking, and I couldn’t put it down. Granted, there were a few times that I simply had to, because it got too intense and emotional. The book was also narrated from several people’s points of view: Mare, her archenemy Evangeline, Cal, Maven, and Maven’s wife, Iris. It was a little hard to follow at first because of it, the pacing tended to stutter and I had a hard time keeping everything straight. But I will say that the multiple points of view, once I got the pacing down, was a really nice touch: I really got a good feel for what everyone was feeling. The twists and turns were numerous, and I was either gasping, crying, or screaming in frustration as the book went on. As far as last books go, this one was really satisfying: all the loose ends were tied up, and the ending was shocking, heartbreaking, exciting, and more than a little bit terrifying. The large cast of characters was hard to keep track of; I almost wish Aveyard had put an index in the back so it was easier to keep track of. But one thing is for certain: I will never forget Mare, Maven, and Cal, and what they all went through, and I’m so sad that it’s all over. Red Queen is one of my favorite series of recent years, and I’m so sad that it’s all gone! I can’t wait to see what Victoria Aveyard has up her sleeve next! The bottom line: The final book in the bestselling Red Queen series, I loved War Storm: shocking, scary, heartbreaking, and unforgettable! I’m so upset that it’s all over! Next on deck: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland Review

Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: Dread Nation, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Dread Nation has been on my list at the library since I first heard of it, way back in May. When I saw that it was available at my local library, I went and snatched it up. It was on its last renewal, and I didn’t want to return it to the library again without reading it. It presents an alternate timeline of history, where the dead walk just two days after The Battle of Gettysburg began. It is also a powerful treatise on racism, colonialism, and what it really means to be human. This book is one of the best of 2018, striking straight to the soul and not letting go, not until the explosive ending. Thought-provoking, sharp, darkly funny, meticulously researched and diverse, Dread Nation is a zombie novel that I was waiting for my whole life. I can’t wait for the next book!

Jane McKeene was born two days after the dead began to walk at the Battle of Gettysburg, and as a result, The War Between the States is utterly derailed, normal life shattered forever. In a nation more frightened by the threat of the undead than one another, safety is placed in the hands of a few, and the laws such as the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children, once they are of age, to learn how to put down the dead for good, called ‘shamblers’. But with the laws come new opportunities that the children wouldn’t have otherwise. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, a guardian trained in weapons, fighting, and etiquette to guard the well-to-do from the undead; it is the only thing that could raise her status and protect her from society’s prejudices. But that’s the last thing that Jane wants: her only thoughts are for her mother and returning to her home in Kentucky, once her education is finished. But when people begin disappearing mysteriously around Baltimore county, Jane is soon caught up in a deadly conspiracy that could cost her everything she loves, against some powerful, secret enemies. Apparently the walking undead is the least of Jane McKeene’s problems.


This book; I had to take it back to the library twice before I actually had the time to read it, and I’m so happy that I was able to finish it before I had to take it back. It is easily one of the best books of 2018, and for good reason. A smashing combination of horror, historical commentary for the past and today, biting, sharp, hilarious prose with biracial and black female protagonists, killer fight scenes, and political intrigue and turns and twists around every corner—this book was fantastic. (Diverse books for the win, always!) The pacing was breakneck, the prose biting, spare, and sharp, and if I wasn’t cringing, or screaming, I was laughing, ever anxious to see what was going to happen next. The alternate timeline that Ireland presents was both exciting and terrible, and I didn’t realize just how much I wanted this kind of book until it was written. I mean, a combo of zombies and Civil War America? Genius! One of my favorite parts of this novel was that it was a timely and thought-provoking read on what it really means to be human, but especially a black, Native-American, or Mexican individual in a white, patriarchal society. Reading this book felt like being struck by lightning; it made me laugh, cry, scream, and think, and I recommend it to everyone. Get your hands on this book, read it, because I promise you, you won’t regret it. They say that fiction is a mirror through which we get to see different points of view, and I will never forget Jane McKeene, Katherine, or Jack Redbone; I feel like I found a little ragtag family in this book, and I can’t wait for the second one. Hands down one of the best books of the year, if not all time. ‘Nuff said. The bottom line: A thought-provoking, sharp and funny historical fiction novel that bends time and space, I loved Dread Nation, every little thing about it. One of my favorite books of 2018, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard!

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir Review

Title: A Reaper at the Gates
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

An Ember in the Ashes, the first book in this series, was one of my favorite books of 2015, and the sequel, A Torch Against the Night, was just as fantastic. I reserved A Reaper at the Gates at my local library as soon as I knew of its existence, and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while. As soon as I was finished with Let Me Tell You, I dove into this book, and honestly… My emotions are still roiling, and I finished it on Friday. I needed the whole weekend to process my feelings, and I’m so sad that I have to wait until 2019 for the sequel. This book was the best yet in the quartet, but it was also the most heartwrenching and emotional. I think I’m going to be scarred for life over this book, but that being said, it is easily one of my favorite books of 2018. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, for my readers that haven’t read it yet, so I’ll do my best to sum it all up without giving it away.

A Reaper at the Gates picks up where A Torch Against the Night left off. The threat of war looms large over The Empire. Helene Aquilla, The Blood Shrike, is facing unrest inside of The Empire and out. Things are even more perilous when she realizes that her sister’s life—and the lives of every citizen in The Empire—hangs in the balance. In the far east, Laia of Serra hunts for a way to stop the even bigger threat of The Nightbringer, but in the process, she faces unexpected threats and is drawn into a battle that she never even imagined she would fight. Elias is stuck in the land that dwells between the living and death, having given his freedom away to take on the mantle of Soul Catcher. But in so doing, the ancient power that he has pledged to serve will stop at nothing to ensure his devotion, even at the cost of his own humanity.


This book: It was beautiful, emotional, heartbreaking, and even three days later, I’m still shell-shocked. The pacing was breakneck, moving between Laia, Elias, Helene, and occasionally The Nightbringer, and this book grabbed me by the throat from the first line. I was captivated by Tahir’s gorgeous, beautiful prose, and as the book progressed, I was laughing, crying, or screaming. I also really loved the intense, realistic character development, especially the three main characters, Marcus, and The Commandant. Rife with romance, action, and more than a fair share of heartbreak, I was absolutely enchanted by this book. Full of twists that had me gasping in shock, I was enthralled, often against my will; there were times when I had to put the book down, because my heart couldn’t take it. I cried multiple times reading this book, and I spent most of the weekend crying over it, too. And that ending! It. Was. The Worst. I’m still reeling from it. I need the last book! Right now, or I’m gonna die! This book was the most exquisite torture, and I really enjoyed all of all the loose ends that it tied up. Is it April of next year yet? I’m dying! The bottom line: The third book in the bestselling Ember in the Ashes series, I loved A Reaper at the Gates, even while it shattered my soul and stomped my heart into tiny, broken pieces! Next on deck: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson Review

Title: Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings
Author: Shirley Jackson
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Anthology
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Shirley Jackson is a name that is synonymous with titan, god, or witch, in my opinion, and to be honest, the short story ‘The Lottery’, prior to this point, way back in high school, and it’s left an indelible mark on my mind. Let Me Tell You has been sitting in my stack for a while now, and when I realized that it went back to the library this week, I immediately began after I was finished with Reign the Earth, and I was absolutely blown away. A collection of unpublished work, complied by Jackson’s children, Let Me Tell You was amazing, one of the best works I’ve read in a long time, and I will never forget it. It was like finding a massive wellspring of inspiration and knowledge; Jackson, to this day, is known as one of the best American storytellers of all time, and I can’t wait to dive into more of her work when I have the time. I really feel like I’ve found a new inspiration, someone new to look up to, and I’m so inspired!

This book just contains far too many pieces to be reviewed individually, so I’ll just give the book an overall rating. Consisting of short stories, drawings, humorous pieces about life and family, and advice on the craft of writing, I was captivated by this book; there wasn’t a piece that I didn’t love or didn’t inspire me in some way. I was only sad that there wasn’t more. This was an obvious labor of love from children to their mother, and I was greatly touched by the time and efforts that her children put forth in order to put their beloved mother’s work out in the world, where people could read it.

This book also had great range: no piece was quite like the other, and if I wasn’t laughing, gasping, or crying, I was amazed just by the sheer skill that Jackson poured into her work, especially when I realized just how much she had to do when she wasn’t sitting in the study, clacking away at the typewriter. This book has everything: tales of lost love, affairs, supernatural stories, suspense that had me screaming or jumping at every loud noise, anxious and paranoid, stories that hinted at magic and things that hid in the shadows. But her nonfiction was just as compelling, giving depth on her family life and how she balanced it and her passion for writing. It’s really hard to pick a favorite in this volume; it was all so good! I devoured these stories like a junkie, and I can’t wait to find more of her stories and novels! I feel like I’ve found a gold mine that I was blind to before; I’m totally blown away by Shirley Jackson’s work, and I can see why her work still endures today; her voice is timeless. This book is essential to a Jackson fan, whether they’re familiar to her work or not. Easily one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I can’t wait to explore more of Jackson’s delicious, chills-inducing prose. Absolutely beautiful. The bottom line: An intense, beautiful labor of love from a writer’s children to their slightly wacky, hilarious mother, I loved Let Me Tell You! One of my favorite books that I’ve read this year! Next on deck: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen Review

Title: Reign the Earth
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Elementae, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book from a recommendation list, and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while. As soon as I was finished with The Radical Element, I dove into this book. This is my first book by A.C. Gaughen, and I can promise you all that it will not be my last. A lush, gorgeous fantasy series opener, rife with magic, deception, betrayal and political intrigue, I was captivated by this book, and I will never forget it. Easily one of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m so excited for the sequel! I decided to wait a few days to review, because I needed some time to think before I put my thoughts down on paper, and I went on a camping trip on Friday and didn’t return until yesterday. Honestly, I’m really tempted to check out her first series, about a lady Robin Hood! Reign the Earth was absolutely amazing.

Shalia is a daughter of the desert, and in an effort to barter for peace for her people, she is engaged to marry the King of the Bone Lands, Calix, never mind that they’ve never met. In their world, there are people who have the gift to control different elements, called The Elementae. But her new husband has his own secrets, many of them deadly: He longs to exterminate The Elementae, aiming to settle the score for a wrong that happened years before his time. Even more unsettling, Shalia begins to have feelings for her husband’s brother, Galen, which trigger dormant powers over Earth that she never knew she had. As whispers of rebellion and revolution begin to reach the palace, Shalia must choose between forging a lasting peace between the peoples of the desert and the Bone Lands, or to fight for her own future as an Elementae, even if it costs her everything she loves.


This book was amazing. The writing was gorgeous, the pacing breakneck, and I was utterly spellbound by Shalia’s glittering, dangerous world. I also really enjoyed Shalia’s voice, and her character development; she grew from a meek, shy girl into a powerful young woman who refuses to let anything stand in the way of what she believes is right; I loved it. All of the characters in this book were really memorable, especially Shalia’s family members most noticeably Kairos and Rian, Calix, his siblings, Danae and Galen. There were also really great elements mixed into it that helped move the plot along: secrets, betrayal, political intrigue, forbidden love, surprising magic and heartfelt bonds. And that ending! Oh my goodness, how in the world am I supposed to wait a whole year before the sequel?! I’m dying here! This book was perfect, a gorgeous, thoughtful fantasy about what it means to be human, and how to stand up for yourself, even if all the odds are stacked up against you! The bottom line: A gorgeous, emotional series opener full of magic and action, I loved Reign the Earth, and I can’t wait for what’s next in this series! Next on deck: Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Radical Element by Jessica Spotswood Review

Title: The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, and Other Dauntless Girls
Editor: Jessica Spotswood
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Anthology
Series: A Tyranny of Petticoats, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I loved the anthology A Tyranny of Petticoats, so when I found out that it was getting a sequel, I was so excited. I reserved it at my local library, and as soon as I was able, I pushed it to the top of the stack, eager to drive in after The Neverending Story. I really loved Tyranny, but I honestly think that The Radical Element was the stronger of the two. Since this is an anthology, I’ll do this review a little differently than normal; I’ll give the whole book an overall rating, and since there are twelve stories, I’ll be reviewing the stories that were highlights for me, for the sake of clarity and time. I will say this, though, before I get started: all of these stories were well-researched and strong, featuring women who refused to let the social mores of their time hold them back from what they truly wanted. Okay, so without further ado, here we go:

The Magician by Erin Bowman: 5 out of 5 Stars. Set in 1858, on the Colorado River, in the New Mexican Territory, this story tells of a girl disguised as a scrawny boy, desperate to make a living and leave the tiny riverside town she lives in, only to end up with her secret in deep jeopardy. But she fights back with everything she has and gets away with more than she could’ve ever imagined. Gritty, poignant, and spare, I loved this story!

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd: 5 out of 5 Stars. This story takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, with the Civil War in full swing. Honestly, this was one of my favorites, partially because the main character was disabled, confined to a wheelchair due to a tragic accident. But that doesn’t stop her from doing her part to turn the bloody tides of the war, disguised as the dashing figure of Lord Firebrand. Accompanied by her best friend, Pauline, a freed slave, she is presented with an opportunity that she simply can’t refuse. Gorgeous, witty, and surprising!

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood: 4 out of 5 Stars. 1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory. Honestly, I think that this story is my favorite piece of work in Spotwood’s arsenal. This story tells of the brave, vivacious and defiant Ruby, who has the restless heart that led her father to run away with the circus when she and her sister, Pearl, were young. She longs to be a star, to be more than the girl who’s beaten by her Uncle Jack and all but ignored by her mother. Refusing to be confined to the life of a loveless marriage and having children, she runs away in pursuit of her dreams, even when her family turns against her. I loved it a lot, but I honestly hated her family, aside from Pearl. I loved Ruby and her bright, unstoppable voice. Wonderful!

Better for All the World by Marieke Nijkamp: 5 out of 5 Stars. 1927, Washington D.C. A story of law, the eugenics movement, and being unapologetically yourself, Carrie longs to be a lawyer and be able to stand up for those who can’t do so for themselves. She is spurred on by this and a secret that only her closest family members know. When she makes an unexpected friend outside of the courthouse while waiting on a verdict on a case that is close to her heart, she thinks that she may have finally found a kindred spirit, until they begin to debate and she realizes that he fully supports the eugenics movement, a movement that is about optimal genetics and eliminating the threats to society, for example, the disabled, the old, the infirm. Deciding that she cannot be friends with someone who would have her sterilized or even killed because of her differences, she lets go of her fear and goes on to live the way she wants. This story really hit home, and I will never forget it. Thoughtful, brutal, and enlightening, I loved it.

When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough by Dhionelle Clayton: 5 out of 5 Stars. 1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. This story is a contender for my favorite of the entire collection. Emma and her family have lived for hundreds of years, collecting moonlight to prevent natural aging. But now that the War is on, Emma is no longer content to hide in plain sight and move on once people get suspicious. She longs to do something meaningful, to enlist as the boys in her town have been doing. But her parents are desperate to keep her out of the conflict, and so the story ends with her posing as a nurse, determined to make a difference even if it means defying her loved ones. I loved Emma’s voice, the prose lovely and beautiful and sparse; easily one of the best of the whole collection; I wish this story was a whole book! Clayton is one of my favorite authors, as I loved this story and her sophomore novel, The Belles. Fantastic!

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee: 5 out of 5 Stars. 1955, Oakland, California. I loved Stacey Lee’s last book, Outrun the Moon, so I was really looking forward to this one, and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. Lana Lau is a Hawaiian native, come to California with her parents, her mother a worker in a sugar refinery, her father a cobbler. Desperate to help her parents and to make something out of herself, she decides to try out for the part of Sugar Girl, the girl who will be on all the bags of sugar for the company that her mother works for. When things go deeply wrong in her audition, she is forced to rely on another, unexpected talent: her jokes. I really, really enjoyed this one! Another frontrunner for my favorite story of the whole book. Full of spirit, resilience, and humor, I loved Lana and her vibrant, hilarious voice, and the way she used her connection to her Hawaiian culture to come out on top! Amazing!


This book is one of my favorites of the year, full of spunky, spirited stories that inspired me, made me laugh, cry, and cheer! I can only hope that there’s another anthology in the works now, because if I wasn’t hooked before, I definitely am now! Full of tales from some of my favorite authors and ones that I’ve just discovered, I loved The Radical Element! Absolutely stunning! The bottom line: Filled with stories that are as diverse as they are inspiring and funny, I loved The Radical Element—one of my favorite anthologies of 2018! Next on deck: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen!

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende Review

Title: The Neverending Story
Author: Michael Ende
Age Group: Middle Grade/Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Okay, so I’ll admit it: This is a reread. I read this for the first time when I was ten or so; my library had a hardcover copy, and I loved the way that the text was green and purple; that was initially the thing that caught my eye. I also adored all the three movies, so when I realized that my library had a copy, I snatched it up. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and as soon as I was finished with Bookish Boyfriends, I started it, and reading it from an adult perspective put a different spin on things. It was still the captivating tale from my childhood, but it was really interesting, the things that I noticed because I had grown so much since reading it the first time.

First, I’d like to note that the movie and the book are completely different, as is usually the case when a book is turned into another media format; the movie only scratched the surface of the worldbuilding that Michael Ende created, and a lot of the characters were significantly different, especially Bastian himself, but overall, I think the movies did a good job of telling the story. It had been years since I read the book, but the writing was beautiful, the pacing breakneck, the illustrations gorgeous, dark, creepy, and eerily detailed, and I loved every dark, lovely moment inside of this story.
Bastian Balthazar Bux doesn’t exactly fit in at his school: often, he’s the target for bullies and tormented by teachers. Grieving for his late mother, one of his only ways of coping are reading books. When he passes a bookstore on the way to school one day, he spots a book called The Neverending Story. He steals it and hides in the attic, plunged into the story of Atreyu and The Childlike Empress, quite literally eventually. And he must decide whether to save the magical world of Fantastica, or if he will ever return to his own life and world, for the very fabric of existence may depend on his choice…


This book was wonderful, and not just because of the nostalgia factor. The prose was beautiful, the worldbuilding was well fleshed-out, and I was captivated by the illustrations. I really liked the adventure of it all, and I really loved Fantastica, and the peril that plagued the world that Bastian eventually fell into. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately spellbound. This book was nothing less than a classic fantasy, suitable for both middle grade and young adult readers. I also really liked the way that the darker parts of Bastian’s personality were expanded on; it was almost like the world of Fantastica changed him as much as he changed it. This was a weird experience, reading this book so many years on. I still really enjoyed the fantasy elements of this book; it will always be a classic to me. But the concepts of escapism, good and evil, and fantasy versus reality really stuck with me. Honestly, the second read was just as good as the first, especially with all the riddles, questions, and the ending! I only wish that there was more! The bottom line: A beautifully written, thought-provoking fantasy novel perfect for all ages, I still love The Neverending Story! Next on deck: The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, and Other Dauntless Girls by Jessica Spotswood!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt Review

Title: Bookish Boyfriends: A Date with Darcy
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Bookish Boyfriends, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while; the first time that I borrowed it from the library I decided to return it because I didn’t have enough room in my stack at the time. So when I saw it sitting on the shelf, I snatched it up. I’ve never read any of Tiffany Schmidt’s work prior to this series debut, but I can assure you all that I will be seeking out more of her work as soon as possible. This book was a very pleasant surprise; I picked it up expecting a funny, light romp into classic literature and first love. And it was, but it was also a lot more substantial than I expected it to be. Feminist, funny, and smart, I loved A Date with Darcy, and I can’t wait for more from this hilarious, promising new series! One of my favorite books of 2018, and it was the perfect antidote to the two heavy, emotional reads I had before it.

Merrilee Campbell firmly holds the belief that boys are always better in books. But that doesn’t stop her from longing for the ultimate love story in real life. Upon a transfer to Hero High with her best friend, Eliza, and her little sister, Rory, she meets Monroe Stratford and is certain that the romance she craves has finally come true. But when Monroe gets demanding, possessive, and clingy, she is forced to rethink on what she really wants in a guy. Things are further complicated by the appearance of Fielding Williams, the infuriating headmaster’s son, to whom Merri has an irresistible attraction, even though she can’t stand him. Drawing on the literature she learns about in her class, she starts to see that a romance straight out of the books may not be for her after all. Other issues pepper Merri’s life: her older sister is getting married to a real-life Ken doll, her younger sister is having trouble keeping up with the rigorous new coursework, and Eliza’s parents, brilliant scientists, are gone for months at a time. But Merri must decide what she really wants, from romance and her own life.

As I said, this book was a really pleasant surprise! I was expecting fluff, nothing really meaningful, but this book really proved me wrong. Sure, it was stuffed to the brim with romance, but it was also smart and funny and full of literary references that had me constantly laughing! I really liked the pacing; it started out at a brisk clip, and I really enjoyed Merrilee’s bright, vivacious voice, though it didn’t hurt that she was a major bookworm, just like this girl! I also really liked Merri’s bright, loving family, especially her parents and sisters; they provided a great foil to Merri’s dreamy whimsy. Eliza, too, was a really fun character; I liked how she tried to ground Merri when her imagination ran away with her (which was often). I honestly didn’t like any of the boys in the book, except for Fielding and Toby. Monroe was just so obnoxious and annoying! I wish that Merri had given him the boot earlier. I really enjoyed the ending, too; both romance wise and what Merri decided to do with her life. I really hope that there’s more to come, because this book was the perfect palate cleanser after heavy novels, full of serious issues and emotion! The bottom line: Funny, thoughtful, feminist and romantic, I loved Bookish Boyfriends, and I can’t wait for the next installment! Next on deck: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende!

Tradition by Brendan Kiely Review

Title: Tradition
Author: Brendan Kiely
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Brendan Kiely is known for three books, the most notable of which is All-American Boys, coauthored with fellow superstar Jason Reynolds (who holds a special place in my heart because of Miles Morales). But before Tradition, I hadn’t heard of him, nor read his work. But I found Tradition through a recommendation list online, and I checked it out from my library. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and when I realized that I had no more renewals on it, I pushed it to the top of my stack after I finished A Court of Frost and Starlight. Kiely has penned a runaway sleeper hit that I will never forget, challenging everything we know about age-old traditions, rape culture, misogyny, and speaking your truth, even if it means letting go of everything you once held dear.
Fullbrook Academy, an elite boarding school tucked in the hills and mountains of New England. An establishment of learning, privilege, and success. But behind its polished veneer lies dangerous traditions and even darker secrets. Jules Devereux wants only to keep her head down and get through her last year, to start over at a new college and leave the antiquated, good old boys culture behind. She longs for complete freedom, but ex-boyfriends and friends hold her in her place, much to her frustration. Enter James ‘Bax’ Baxter, a newcomer from Ohio gifted a clean slate after a tragic accident back home, and an unlikely friendship springs up between them.

But the culture at Fullbrook, where girls in the yearbook are rated for their looks, boys stack hockey packs in their windows to show their sexual prowess and conquests, and dances sponsored by the school shove innocent first-year girls out into the night with older boys, is rife with sexism, misogyny, and more than skeletons in designer closet, and Jules and Bax must join forces to pull back the curtain on the sheltered world in which they live. Can they join forces and shed light on the darkness hiding in their everyday lives, against an institution that believes it can do no wrong?
This book… I finished it the night before last, and I had to let it marinate in my head before I could find the words that would describe how I felt. And to tell the truth, my feelings are still all tangled up. This book was like a punch to the gut, a fist through the teeth, a searing and unforgettable call to arms to fight against the ‘traditions’ that still thrive in our culture, where men can do whatever they want and get away with little more than a slap on the wrist. But even more than that, it was a beacon of hope, a reminder that though it can take some time and a lot of effort, change can happen, and all we have to do is hold on and do everything we can to dismantle the foundation of our sexist, misogynistic culture that gave birth to rape culture. I loved this book, it is easily one of the best I’ve read this year.


I really enjoyed all of it; the pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately drawn into the secretive, dark world that James and Jules inhabit. I also really enjoyed the format of the book; each chapter focused on Jules and James, going back and forth. The prose was searing, sparse, and gorgeous, full of power; I love Brendan Kiely’s writing style. I really enjoyed Jules and Bax’s voices, distinct and different but uplifting and powerful all at once. I will admit, due to the subject matter, there were times that I wanted to scream in rage and frustration, rip my hair out, and punch something. This beautiful, timely novel got into my head and heart and will never leave. I also really liked the way that Jules and Bax’s situations were portrayed: Jules isn’t sure what to think after a violent, drunken encounter with her ex, Ethan Hackett, and Bax longs to right his mistakes as well as fit in with the boys who can lift him up or make his existence hellish. But the two unite to dismantle the good ol’ boys club that is Fullbrook. That ending, too! Everything was meticulously researched and real to life; I will never forget Tradition, and I can’t wait to read more from Brendan Kiely. This book needs to be read by all, no matter their age or gender. Tackling class, privilege, rape culture, misogyny, and the awful traditions that haunt our culture to this day, Tradition is searing and unforgettable! The bottom line: A gorgeous, powerful and timely book featuring great, strong characters and searing prose, I loved this book! Easily one of the best books of 2018 for me. Next on deck: Bookish Boyfriends: A Date with Darcy by Tiffany Schmidt!