Posted in Author Recommendations, Recommendations, Reviews

Review: Even if We Break

I’m going to have to break blog protocol and talk about how wonderful this book is so SPOILERS AHEAD!

Even if We Break

Even If We Break by [Marieke Nijkamp]

Summary

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

For five friends it was supposed to be one last game. A getaway before everyone went their separate way, a chance to say goodbye. To each other and the the the game they’ve been been playing for the last three years of high school.

But everyone has their their own demons and everyone is hiding secrets. Some of them have reason to be paranoid, but others are hiding secrets that puts the whole group at risk.

Finn doesn’t doesn’t trust anyone since he since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular rich girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it, Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career, the only thing that shaped her life in high school. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations to be the best. Finally Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can at all costs.

But when the line between game and reality start to blur, with deadly consequence

For five friends, this was supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways—a chance to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past three years. But they’re all dealing with their own demons, and they’re all hiding secrets.

Finn doesn’t trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.

When the lines between game and reality start to blend with deadly consequences, it’s a race against time before it’s game over—forever.

Review

This novel is amazing, it’s a the way Nijkamp constructed the mystery around the game. Also her construction of the game. You can tell they are an experinced RPG player and perhaps DM. As for the spoilers, who the killer was was such as a surprise. And for who survive they are the people who never survive horror movies and it’s perfect and wonderful and now my standard for horror and thrillers. There was was facing personal demons, there was romance but not too much, there was friendship and disability and queerness and it was near perfect.

Five stars!

Photo by Javier Grixo on Unsplash

Posted in Uncategorized

Nine Lords a leaping: 9 Best Male Characters

I will warn you in explaining why I like the characters I have to SPOIL THE BOOKS. If you have an issue with that please turn around now they are all great books and great characters again.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1) Aaron Stowe

You’re going to be like I’m picking to villain, well yes, his reformation arc is the much more interesting of the two brothers, and once you get into Unwanteds Quests he’s really extremely interesting. He’s also non-judgmental in a way Alex isn’t because of his past and once he’s committed to the right side he’s generally one of the most interesting characters.

2)Jasper

While actually a dragon his sister turned him into a boy for the portion of this adventure, so he’s on the list. He’s great at using his mind to find a solution where Princess Sophia and their other compainons tend to race into things, he helps solve the problem of their trapped family members in a way that doesn’t require violence and for that it gets him on the list.

3)Jacob

I like his friendship with Cassidy, he may not share all his secrets and he may be afraid of fading away but he’s there to help Cassidy, especially when this poltergeist ups the stake and threatens to destroy a whole city.

4)Sledge

I could seriously just name nine male character from this book alone, they are all well fleshed out which I think is a feat because the cast is a huge ensemble. Sledge though is one of my favorites he’s the ‘leader’ of the Blades and he’s a gentle person whole helps Caledonia get back on her feet, he used his position in the Bullet hierarchy to get people out. He also values consent more than anything, totally going on the list.

4)Pine

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Sledge’s partner he’s suspious of Caledonia and at first think throwing her back to the sea is a good idea but he provides a good view into Bullet life, and an honesty that other characters lack. Pine will always tell the truth, even when it’s tough, especially when it’s tough to hear, it’s what Caledonia needs during this book, especially after the two become friends.

5)Coen

While Coen is morally grey in Contagion, he messes with the ships to stop Thea’s crew from leaving the planet, in Immunity it’s clear he’s just trying to save the people he has left, Thea and Nova. He’s given up on his dream of seeing his sister again. But Thea has a few tricks up her sleeve and won’t let Coen give up totally, by the end of the book he’s got a different outlook and finally gets what he’s looking for.

6)Aster

Aster had to be on this list, he shows you can break gender norms and still be a boy. Later in the series he also inspires his cousin Sledge to go to school outside the family Aster is all about trying new things but remaining true to who you are. Of course he was going to be on the list.

7)Nico Holland

One of the main Torchbearers and the first to discover the island. Nico has fun at first when they discover the Darkdeep but doesn’t run when it turns out to be a bigger, and darker mystery than any of them could have anticipated, for his courage he makes the list.

8)Crow

Crow is a living weapon made by Jack, and yet Crow is also Blue’s friend and doesn’t want to do anyone any harm, so he’s been hiding, trying to avoid being used, but when it comes down to it he sacrifices himself for Blue. Something she doesn’t take lightly and is explored in the second book. For his bravery Crow is totally on the list.

9)Rohan 

For all he’s done for Thisbe and the cause of helping Grimere he is a good character who hasn’t let a hard world beat him up to the point where he’s hard too. He’s good with Thisbe and fights for his values and his homeland and for that he makes the list.

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Challenges, YARC

Eight Ladies Dancing: 8 Best Female Character

I will warn you in explaining why I like the characters I have to SPOIL THE BOOKS. If you have an issue with that please turn around now they are all great books and great characters again.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1)Jameela Mirza

In Hena Khan’s take on Little Women Jameela is the Jo like character. I particularly like her attitude when it comes to facing challenges. You can see there is a kernel of Jo’s personality in there but Jameela is all her own, Hena Khan as always does a great job working in faith and culture and how important it is to her characters and she did the same with Jameela. I think my favorite thing about Jameela is her interactions with her sisters.

(Jameela is I believe supposed to be pictured in the plaid shirt)

2)Molly Nathans

I like Molly because she is one of the best portrayals of OCD that I’ve read, she’s honest and her rituals mean a lot to her. There is a lot riding on other people not finding out about her rituals. This book is important for teens with OCD, it shows her not being able to keep up with her rituals and her eventual breakdown, it also shows her getting help and being supported by her family, therapists and friends. I think her story is important because there are a lot of teens with OCD who need to read that they aren’t alone.

3)Aventurine

I like Aventurine because she breaks traditions both human and dragon. She sets her own path in life plus her refusal to give up even after being turned down by the two best chocolate houses in town show her fighting spirt. Finally once she get to be family with The Chocolate Heart her fierce protection of it is admirable. Plus who doesn’t support someone whose main interest in life is chocolate?

(Aventurine is pictured on the cover)

4)Mimi Mackson

Do I like heroines obsessed with baking? Maybe, but Mimi is smart she see’s past a spell meant for her, rescues her family, and outsmarts an immortal being. The fact that she’s also an awesome baker, I mean that’s just props to her.

(Mimi is pictured on the front cover)

5)Mia Tang

Mia was strong in the first novel, Front Desk securing the Calavista motel from the corrupt Mr. Yang. But thing novel finds her digging deeper having to help her found family when they are nearly torn apart after a racist law and racist politician come up for Governor, Mia sticks to her values, and makes sure immigrants know they are welcome at the Calavisita and that’s what makes her one of the best female characters I’ve read this year.

6)Edie

I loved Edie journey to understand who she is and where she fits. She’s strong and even though she doesn’t understand exactly what is missing at the beginning of the book she still knows there is something about herself she can’t define. Once she finds out about her grandmother, she has questions for her family and who how she fits in. But she doesn’t back down, when she finally learns the truth about her family past she deals with tragic past in her own way and finds take in that past and blend it with family present to make a brighter future. She’s one of the most complex and well written characters I read this year so there was no question she’d make the list.

(Edie is pictured on the cover)

7)Lizzy Sherman

Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl by [Susan Lubner]

Lizzy may not make the best decisions, going into an abandoned house, having a girl live in her closet, but she has a good heart, at first she just wants the best for her mom and baby sibling, and eventually she wants the best for the girl she helps rescue too. She’s got a big heart even if she isn’t always thinking about her choices in advance and that’s why she makes the list.

(Lizzy is supposed to be up in the window playing with the cat)

8)Clover Martinez

The Last 8 by [Laura Pohl]

Clover Martinez’s literal refusal to give up even when she thinks she’s the last person on earth, and her shaping the Area 51 group into a real team both show her leadship skill, her general awesomeness and refusal to give up also she goes one on one with an alien plane it’s super awesome, just like her.

Come back tomorrow to see who we picked out for 9 Lords a Leaping!

Image by Amarpreet Singh from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations, Recommendations

Seven-Swans a Swimming: 7 Books You Dove Right Into Reading

1)Seafire

Short Summary:

Female pirates being AWESOME.

Real Summary

Okay for real, it is female pirates being awesome but its so much more. After Caledonia Styx and her best friend, Pisces are the only survivors on a raid on their ship where their families are killed and their brothers are kidnapped by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets.  They set their minds for revenge. 

Four years later the two have set up a new ship from the ashes of the old one, Caledonia captains the ship while Pisces is second in command. The two have built a crew of women who have also been personally affected by Aric Athair in one way or another. Either losing their families, homes or being former members of his army.

On their ship the Mors Navis, the crew tries to stay alive and take out the Aric’s fleet when they can. But when one attempt to attack some of the vessels in the fleet that make an addictive compound called Silt goes south, Caledonia nearly loses Pises, were it not for the help of a Bullet looking to defect.

Caledonia finds herself at a crossroads, the last time she trusted a Bullet she nearly lost everything but this man may have valuable intelligence that could help the crew of the Mors Navis finally gain an upper hand against Aric.

But Bullets aren’t supposed to be able to come back from being mindless members of Arics army? Are they? If he joins the crew will it break the bonds that Caledonia and the women of the Mors Navis have spent four hard years trying to build?

Why I Dove Right In:

Is it ironic to say I dove right into a book about pirates? I couldn’t help it, the crew was feminist and awesome in so many way, the girls were diverse, even the Oran, the one Caledonia wants to cast in the role of the villian is multi-faceted.

2) Steeltide

Summary

Caledonia finds herself separated from her crew after nearly choosing to face an old foe, instead of running to safety with her crew. After nearly dying, Caledonia is pulled out of the sea barely alive and nursed back to health by the last people she’d expect. A crew of former Bullets who call themselves the Blades.

The Blades escaped Aric Athair’s clutches and are now nomadic, ready to leave when any sign of trouble comes their way. Caledonia herself represents trouble, and some of the Blades particularly one named Pine don’t like that.

But Caledonia makes some friends among the Blades, including Sledge and Triple, each of the Blades have given themselves their own names and prides themselves on having a sense of choice.

But when Caledonia finds out her crew is being held at the infamous Slipmark, she must convince the Blades to jump back into the fight and help rescue her beloved sisters.

Along the way, Caledonia finds out more about life in the Bullet army and just what all is under Aric Athair’s control. She senses a way to start a revolution if she can convince everyone to want to fight.

But the battle for the world of the Bullet Sea maybe even more surprising than Calendonia expected when an old enemy shows up with the last person she’d expect: her brother.

Why I Dove Right In:

This series certainly didn’t suffer from second book syndrome and added a whole new cast of interesting characters you just couldn’t help wanting to get to know, the Blades were especially interesting, but so were Caledonia’s interactions with her sisters.

3) Before I Let Go

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Summary

Corey and Kyra were inseparable best friend in their tiny town of Lost Creek, Alaska. Corey was always the first one to stand up to support Kyra as she dealt with the struggles that came with her bipolar disorder. But as things get serious with Kyra’s disorder, Corey’s family moves away.

Corey makes Kyra promise to wait for and stay strong during the long dark winter. But just days before Corey comes to visit Kyra dies. Corey is understandably devastated and also confused because Kyra never seemed suicidal.

So Corey comes back to Lost Creek to mourn and try to find out what happened. But Lost Creek isn’t like she remembers. Especially in how they feel about Kyra. The town used to shun her because of her condition now they speak of her reverently, like a prophet and say her death was meant to be be, and push Corey away like a stranger.

The more Corey investigates, and the more Corey asks questions about Kyra and gets stonewalled by the town, the more she is lead to believe that Kyra’s death wasn’t an suicide or an accident, but murder.

But Lost wants to keep its secrets, can Corey learn the truth about Kyra’s death and survive her visit?

Why I Dove Right In:

I love a good mystery, combine that with an ace lead and several other LGBTQIA cast members, you had me hooked right there.

4)Stritch Scratch

Summary

Claire’s father does ghost tours of Chicago, and she wants absolutely nothing to do with them. She’s a scientist and the stuff her dad talks about is just paranormal foolishness, right?

But one night she gets stuck helping her dad with a tour and some of the stuff he’s talking about starts to seem a little too real, she’s ready for the tour to be over and she thinks she’s made it through especially when she see a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus, there is something off about him, especially since at the end of the tour, he’s just gone.

Claire tries to think nothing of it at first, she must be imagining things, letting ghost stories she heard on the tour get the best of her, but then the scratching starts, then the whispers in the dark, the number 396 appearing everywhere she turns, and the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire realizes she’s being haunted and she’s got to find out what the boy from the bus wants before it’s too late.

Why I Dove Right In:

Because it was creepy, nothing has really scared me since Dead Voices by Katherine Arden until this and I love me some creepy stories, so that’s why I dove right into this book.

5) Contagion

Summary

A crew of misfits is sent to check out a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, Achlys. They aren’t the most qualified but they are the closest and all have personal issues that could get them in danger on an already dangerous mission. They are all aboard a ship called The Odyessy and hope to get this work done as fast as they can so they can get back to their normal lives.

They are supposed to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission for Black Quarry, the ship that was having trouble, but it turns out to be anything but when they uncover the remains, both literal and figurative, of a project gone wrong.

They find dead bodies with mysterious symptoms, but it may be too late to stop themselves from getting exposed to this contagion. Is anyone safe from this mysterious contagion, and if they are, what does that make them?

Why I Dove Right In:

You may be saying why did I dive right into to a contagious disease book during the height of the pandemic. I can’t explain it to you. I found it calming.

6)

Immunity (Contagion)

TW: Torture

Summary

Thea, Coen and Nova thought they were out of all the danger when they escaped the tidally locked planet Achlys. After all they managed to survive a planet overrun with a virus that got the rest of their crew. But now where they should be safe they find themselves imprisoned on the UPC Paramount.

A rebel group called the Radicals who want freedom from the larger political Union plans to use Thea and Coen as weapons to make supersoldiers. They don’t care they are putting the entire galaxy at risk to do it.

Meanwhile, as Nova wakes up from a coma that was caused by the Radicals a new ally Amber begins to shift to their side, but soon tough choices will have to be made.

Thea, Coen, and Nova don’t know it yet, but there are also larger forces at work, forces that will do anything to make sure Thea is safe, but will it be enough to stop the Radicals?

To stop the Radicals they will have to use the only weapons they have left: themselves.

Why I Dove Right In:

I think for the same reason as above also I got to see the characters get better which was something powerful.

7) The Darkdeep

The Darkdeep by [Ally Condie, Brendan Reichs]

Summary

Timbers is a small Washington State town with not much going on, or so it seems. The only exciting place in Timbers is Still Cove, the off limits place where the mythical creepy Beast lives. The cove is also home to other terrifying legends that no one wants to find out the truth about.

Except Nico Holland doesn’t get a choice, when popular kids send his drone over a cliff, and he ends up accidentally following, his friends Emma and Tyler rush to his rescue, even Opal Walsh who usually runs with the popular kids feels bad about the bullying and runs back to help only to find Nico in this strange situation.

The four soon rescue Nico from the cove’s icy waters and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below. Though it appears they are by themselves, something about the island isn’t exactly right.

The group is more suspicious about the island when they find an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of abandoned things from old weapons and maps, to mysterious things in jars. But the basement of the boat holds the darkest secret of all.

A pool that can bring to life their imaginings, but there is a price for using it not only can it detect their wishes but it can detect their fears, and before its over they will have to face down their darkest fears to put the ancient evil back in its place.

They will come face to face with unlikely allies to fulfill an ancient promise, but will that be enough to stop the mysterious monsters which are becoming stronger every time they face them.

Will friendship, and ancient magic and belief in themselves be enough to save the town they love?

Why I Dove Right In:

This whole series could literally be on this list, but there is a lot of magic and mystery and danger, which drew me in very quickly.

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations

Six Geese-a-Laying: 6 books with the best endings.

I’m going to put forward the fact that a lot of these books are good because they are cliffhangers. But some are good for different reasons because they are sweet or the problem gets resolved, I’ll explain why I like the ending with each one. So I will be spoiling endings as such SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

1)Greystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers

Greystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers by [Margaret Peterson Haddix]

Summary

This book is a mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end. After the first book, which I reviewed here both the Greystone kids and Natalie’s moms are trapped in the alternate world.

Everything in the other world is different, like a mirror image only darker, Evil. When their mother tried to fix an accidental kidnapping of kids with the same life details as the Greystone kids, a mix up that was caused by their mother trying to keep them safe. Their mother got trapped along with an ally, and Ms. Morales, Natalie’s mom.

Now the four kids must use all their skills from bravery to kindness to rescue everyone. But to pull of the rescue they have to go back to a world where telling the truth can be illegal and everything is done in code. Chess worries he’s not brave enough to face this other world and Emma wonders if she can crack the codes she needs to get them through this mess, and Finn, well he’s not sure if he can pretend to be okay.

As for Natalie it feels like they jumped to the past not another universe and the world contains some lies she wishes were true, but when faced with the truth will she know what to believe. The second book in this series doesn’t disappoint with the mysteries and the codes.

And examines the power of truth to twist the world.

Why I Liked the Ending:

Okay I need the third book right now. I love the ending because it was a great cliffhanger. You didn’t know who was evil until the end and secrets that were kept in the first book came to light and the fact that they are going back totally rocks! Can’t wait to read number 3!

Amazon:The Greystone Secrets: The Deceivers

2)The Science of Breakable Things

Science of Breakable Things Wednesday

Summary

Natalie’s mother is suffering from depression, and Natalie is suffering too because she doesn’t know how to fix her mom. She has ideas as to why all of this has happened. Her mom is (was) a botanist and got fired, sending her into her depressive state.

Natalie is angry at her dad for trying to pretend everything is okay, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s angry at her mom, because she feels like she wasn’t good enough, and that if her mom loved her she wouldn’t be depressed.

All this is set against the backdrop of Natalie’s seventh-grade science class. Natalie’s science teacher wants them to find a research question. When Natalie struggles he suggests that she enter an egg drop competition. Natalie is reluctant at first but realizes there is prize money attached and that this might be the solution to fix her mom.

Her mom’s botany work focused on miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The one they had at their house has died and Natalie is sure seeing the flowers will inspire her mom to want to be an active part of life again.

Natalie’s friend Twig is the first to sign onto the team, soon called Operation Egg, along with a new boy from India named Dari. With their help Natalie might just have a chance of winning the contest and helping her mom, but what happens when things fall apart like broken eggs?

Having friends around to pick up the piece help Natalie learns that talking about things can start her on a journey of healing and that with help. Her family might never put the pieces back the same way, but that they might slowly but surely begin to heal with or without the Cobalt Blue Orchid.

Why I Liked the Ending:

Natalie has been dancing around her mothers depression the whole book, she can’t get a straight answer from her dad. Even though her hunt for the rare flower was really a hunt to get her mom back she got to finally talk to her mom about her mental health in the end and the two managed to regain a bit of a connection.

3)Skyhunter

Skyhunter by [Marie Lu]

Summary

The central character is Talin, who is a refugee from another nation, she’s also a Striker. A member of an elite force of fighters. They are the last defense for the only nation that has managed to stay free from the the Federation: Mara.

Talin might not be exactly welcome in Mara but she knows first hand to horrors of the Federation, they are a war machine with technology way beyond anything the other nations have, they leave nation after nation at their feet and are the architects of a terrifying army of mutant beast known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there is more to him than he’s letting on. He may be a spy, but she thinks he’s something else and is willing to go toe to toe with her fellow Strikers about it.

But only one thing is clear the Federation is coming for a fight, and Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers. But will this new prisoner be the key in saving them all? Or destroying them?

Why I Liked the Ending:

Another cliffhanger that left me literally googling the release date for the next book the minute I finished spoiler alert it’s still like 10 months away. But seriously the cliffhanger was killer, killer.

4)Three Keys

Summary

Mia thinks she’s going to have the best year ever. She and her parents are finally out from under the thumb of the controlling Mr. Yao and get to run the Calivista Motel the way they see fit, which includes helping out immigrants.

She also gets to run the front desk with her best friend Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing. But sixth grade it turns out isn’t exactly what she expected. It’s an election year and her teacher openly supports the anti-immigrant candidate who is running to the point she asks them to write about things like why immigration is bad.

Plus the teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great, and unlike her teacher last year she finds herself receiving Cs instead of the As she thinks she rightly deserves.

But school isn’t Mia’s only problem, she’s a businesswoman too and the motel is struggling, in part because they are helping immigrants. The investors are threatening to pull back and sell their shares if Mia doesn’t do something, but Mia doesn’t want to give up on her values.

Especially with a new immigration law that is looming that if it passes will threaten the everything and everyone in Mia’s life.

5) Measuring Up

Summary

Twelve year old Cici loved her life back in Taiwan, especially the time she spent with her grandmother, or A-má. But when her family moves to Seattle so she can have better opportunities she has to leave her grandmother and friend behind.

It’s difficult and she has the usual problems fitting in at school, she quickly makes friends. Though she’s not sure how much of her Taiwanese life to show them.

Now she only needs one thing to make her happy being with her A-má on her seventieth birthday. It doesn’t seem possible. It’s too much money for them all to visit her, but Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There is just one problem Cici only knows how to cook the Taiwanese food she learned with her grandmother.

But after her pickled cucumber is mocked at lunch she is determinted to learn to cook the American way by channeling her inner Juila Child? Through cooking can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite A-má, while also showing both sides of her new self.

This is Lily LaMotte’s debut graphic novel.

Illustrator An Xu an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator working in Baltimore. 

Why I Liked the Ending:

Because it showed the importance of not giving up, I also loved seeing the friendship between the two girls and the mixing of the cultures.

6) The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars by [Adiba Jaigirdar]

TW: Being Outed

Nishat was ready to come out to her family, or so she though, she wasn’t ready however for being iced out, being barely spoken to or being spoken about. She want to keep her family but she doesn’t want to hide who she is, and if the thought things were a problem when she was a lesbian theoretically. When childhood best friend Flávia walks back into her life and her school she falls for her instantly.

But things seem to get all tangled up, especially when Flávia and Nishat both decide to compete to showcase their talents as henna artists in a school competition to make your own business. Nishat calls cultural appropriation, Flávia doesn’t buy it. It doesn’t help that Flávia cousin is Nishat’s arch rival who has made fun of her for years.

But even as they claim to hate each other they can’t seem to break their connection. And when someone outs Nishat and Flávia each must make their own choices about whether their potential relationship will work out or whether they will let things fade to rumors.

Will Nishat go back in the closet to please her family, will Flávia fight for the girl she likes?

Why I Liked the Ending:

Cute ending where the girl gets the girl and her family is supportive, come on you all, this had to make the list.

Amazon: The Henna Wars

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations

Three French Hens: Your Favorite Trilogy

This one was a little tough and I had to make an exception to the rule of everything being published in 2020. But in the end the clear winner was The Witch Boy Series.

This is the first thing I reviewed for the blog so except some really basic content when you read the first review, the later reviews are a bit better. You can find them below:

The Witch Boy

The Hidden Witch

The Midwinter Witch

In short the reason I like the series so much is Aster defies gender norms and that makes him the hero. I also love Aster’s friends who also don’t let gender norms or their past get to them. This series is I think about forging your own path and it’s beautiful and great and queer and that’s why it’s so important.

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Favorite Stand Alone Book

Now I waffled over this how could I pick one single book as my favorite, there were lots to love and lots I wanted to spend more time in. It literally almost a coin toss between the final two, but in the end Niki Smith’s The Dark and Deep Blue won out! I just loved the way the magic system was used, and except for during some parts of the book, I’d love to be there to try it for myself. For those who don’t know the story or haven’t heard of the title, here is my review.

Below are spoilers for the book

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Synopsis

Twins Hawke and Grayson are part of a noble house, their grandfather is about to name their cousin the new head of the house. When a political coup happens and another family member takes over, the two boys have to flee.

The hide where no one would expect them, in an order of women, called the Communion of the Blue an order of magical women. Within the Communion, they are Grayce and Hanna, but while Grayce seems to take to the order like a fish to water, Hanna has a hard time. Grayce has never been comfortable being seen as a boy, and being in the Communion of the Blue feels like coming home for her. She learns how to spin the magical blue wool that controls the different elements in their world and finally finds her place.

Meanwhile, Hawke is having a tough time settling in, he meets an old friend who recognizes him from when they were children. She notes he needs to shave if he wants to keep up his disguise and she informs him that the family member who is responsible for the coup is coming for a blessing from the Communion of the Blue. Before they are officially made head of the noble house.

The twins know that the family member is really after a magical tapestry which shows the real heir of each noble house. The Communion of the Blue has a copy of the tapestry burned during the coup. Through this tapestry, they learned their cousin may be alive and hatch a rescue to take back their house and their family. Grayce though is reluctant to go back.

Their friend from childhood points out that Hawke hasn’t realized the change in Grayce, how she’s finally happy with who she is, the way she never was back when she was thought of as a boy.

Hawke apologizes to Grayce, and Grayce despite her reluctance goes with Hawke to help him find their cousin and help him take back his place as heir. But things are more complicated as they seem, and the Communion of the Blue may be involved.

When it comes down to proving who is the rightful heir before their relative is crowned, Grayce’s new skills she learned in the Communion of the Blue will prove to be the key to saving everything.

Review:

Literally so SWEET. The Communion of the Blue is where Grayce flourishes and the way it was described made me want to join. A sisterhood of magical women dying and spinning yarn that can cause magic in the world. Sign me up! But I think my favorite thing is the fact that Sister Marta the leader of the order is accepting of Grayce even after she is outed as being born male. The magical tapestry even changes to reflect who Grayce truly is, its so wonderful.

Five Favorite Things:

Sister Marta provides a great representation of a woman of color in power. In fact, the sisters of the Communion of the Blue are very diverse and Grayce and Hawke’s friend from childhood is also a person of color.
Grayce’s whole character. She’s so genuine.
The information about what the Communion of the Blue does, I love a well explained magical system.
The magical tapestry acknowledging Grayce’s gender.
The fact that Grayce gets to be the hero at one point.

Amazon: The Dark and Deep Blue

Image by Antonios Ntoumas from Pixabay

Posted in new releases

December New Releases YA

A Curse of Roses

A Curse of Roses by [Diana Pinguicha]

Princess Yzabel is cursed with just one touch she turns bread into roses, with a bite cheese to lilies. She’s close to starving and wasting food in her famine plauged country of Porugal while simply trying to eat.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic then she could turn flower…..into food and help feed herself and her starving country.

But Fatyan, an Enchanted Moura is the is the only one who can help. But she’s trapped by her own magical binds, she can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—but Yzabel has to set her free with a kiss

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse–if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the betrothed to the King of Portugal Yzabel would be commiting treason, but would good is a king for is country if his country has starved to death.

So Yzabel sets Fatyan free, only the two become closer, and it becomes less about duty and more about love. She sought Fatyan out to help save her people now loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy, this is an epic tale of mystery and magic and the impossible choices we have to make between love and duty.

A Curse of Roses includes themes, imagery, and content that might be triggering for some readers. Discussions of religious-based self harm, religious-based eating disorders, and religious-based internalized homophobia appear throughout the novel.

About the Author

Born and raised in the sunny lands of Portugal, Diana is a computer engineer graduate who currently lives in Lisbon. She can usually be found writing, painting, devouring extraordinary quantities of books and video games, or walking around with her bearded dragon, Norberta. She also has two cats, Sushi and Jubas, who would never forgive her if she didn’t mention them. She can be found online at pinguicha.wordpress.com

This book is due to be released December 1st 2020.

Amazon

Brilliant Books

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre

Melody McIntyre is a stage manager extraodinere, she always has a plan for everything.

Well everything except for one thing. Luck in love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance during both the romance and the show end in catastrophe, talk about bad luck. That’s why she’s sworn off romance for her school’s production of Les Mis

Of course Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for their spring performance. Or for her to be sweet, and funny and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.

That leave Melody McIntyre with only one plan now, try desperately not to fall in love

Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.

ROBIN TALLEY is a queer author who grew up in southwest Virginia and now lives in Washington, DC, with her wife and their kids. She is the New York Times bestselling author of six other novels for teen readers: Music From Another World, Pulp, Our Own Private Universe, As I Descended, What We Left Behind, and Lies We Tell Ourselves. You can find her on the web at http://www.robintalley.com.

This book is due to be released December 1st 2020.

Amazon

Brilliant Books

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person

“We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?”

Fredrick Joseph was a trasfer student to a largerly white high school and often had to suffer micro-aggressions. At the time he simply let these wince worthy moments go, as he grew older however he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself but to spread awareness to those white people around him who didn’t see the negative impact they were having.

Joseph speak directly to the reader The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter features the voice of one artist or activist such as Angie Thomas author of The Hate U Give, April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite and many more.

The book touches on everything from cultural appropriation, white privilege, and the tragic results of overt racism and much more. The book also serves as a conversation starter and tool kit with an encyclopedia of racism providing detail on relevant history and terminology.

Frederick Joseph is an award-winning marketing professional, media representation advocate, and writer who was recently selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. He’s also the winner of the 2018 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, given by Comic-Con International: San Diego, and was selected for the 2018 Root 100 List of Most Influential African Americans. He lives in New York City.

Amazon

Brilliant Books

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Posted in TBR

November TBR

A lot of what I read depends on what’s avaible at the various libraries I’m a part of, but here is a list of a few things I’d love to read.

The Art of Saving the World

The Art of Saving the World by [Corinne Duyvis]

I’ve read Duyvis’ books before, particularly On the Edge of Gone, and really enjoyed them. In this one Hazel Stanczak is connected to an interdimensional rift. It tore open when she was born, near her family’s home, of course that sort of thing doesn’t go unnoticed by the government so for the past sixteen years they have set up shop on Hazel’s front lawn.

Because everyone soon learned if Hazel strayed to far from the rift it would become volatile and start flinging things from other dimensions onto the lawn. Or you know swallow up the whole town. The rift was never terribly predictable. So Hazel has stayed near home for the past sixteen years and had government agents make sure she stays that way.

But on her sixteen birthday things including the rift start to spin completly out of control. She find a suprise: a second Hazel, then another, and another. All from different dimensions She also find out the government agency she trusted has been keeping secrets. For the first time ever Hazel has to step into the world learn about her connection to the rift, and according to her guide close the rift and save the world.

But even with four Hazels is she really capable of saving the world?

Amazon: The Art of Saving the World

Ghost Squad

Ghost Squad by [Claribel A. Ortega]

So I recieved my copy of Ghost Squad after going to a talk with the wonderful Claribel A. Ortega. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile but none of my libraries have gotten it so I’m super thankful for the giveaway. Thanks again Claribel Ortega and Arapahoe Libraries.

About the book, for Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.

However when she and her best friend Syd cast a spell that accidentelly awakens malicious spirits that start wrecking havoc throughout St. Augustine. They must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother Babette and her fat cat, Chunk. They have to fight the haunting head on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

Ortega talked about how the influence of 80-90’s scary movies and books influced them, as well as their own Dominican heritage.

Amazon: Ghost Squad

Princeless: Save Yourself

Princeless: Book 1 - Save Yourself (Princeless: Save Yourself) by [Jeremy Whitley, M. Goodwin]

Adrienne Ashe isn’t princess material, she’d much rather be sword fighting and rescuing others. Plus she hates fancy dinners, detests lavish dresses, and the last thing on her list is being saved by some random prince.

However despite her protest on the night of her her 16th-birthday,her parents, the King and Queen find a way to lock her away in a tower guarded by a dragon to await the rescue of a handsome prince.

But tired of suitors that need a dictionary more than they need a wife. Adriennne has decided to take matters into her own hands. Along with her dragon and friend Sparky they vow to recuse her sisters who also been locked away.

Join Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin for a tale of swashbuckling in the face of sexism. Princeless is story about flipping royalty on it’s head and taking destiny into your own hands.

Covers comic issues #1-4

Amazon: Princeless: Save Yourself

What are you all reading this month?

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

Posted in Blogtober, new releases, YARC

November YA New Releases

Now we’ve established I’m not the hugest reader of Young Adult but some of these look really good. Also the Factory Witches of Lowell has a super cheap pre-order making it almost a crime not to buy.

The Factory Witches of Lowell

The Factory Witches of Lowell by [C. S. Malerich]

Seriously, it’s a book about maybe queer witches and class warfare, sign me up.

They’ve got abominable working conditions, unsympathetic mill owners and hard hearted managers. The mill girls at Lowell know when enough is enough. They are going on strike, but with everything against them they may have to rely on their secret weapon: a little bit of witchcraft to be sure no one leave the picket line.

The women of Lowell, Massachusetts aren’t asking for much. They just want their freedom, in the form of fair wages, decent room and board. And a chance to escape the cotton mills before the lint clogs their lungs, but when Boston owners decide to raise the worker’s rent.

The girls go on strike. Their ringleader is Judith Whittier, she may be new to Lowell but she’s no stranger to the picket line and the class warfare that goes with it. She’s already seen one strike fold and she’s intent to never see one fold again. Fortunately her best friend-and maybe first love?-Hannah has a gift for the dying art of witchcraft.

Amazon: The Factory Witches of Lowell

The book is due to be released November 10th.

I’m in no way affiliated with the book or author but seriously the Kindle is like $4

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

Anna Chiu got a lot on her plate and that’s not just because she help’s out at her father’s restaurant. When she’s not helping there she’s looking after her brother and sister or her mother whose debilitabing mental illness making it impossible for her to get out of bed.

When she meet her father’s new delivery boy Rory, he is a welcome distraction and a look into what being a normal teen could be like, even though she knows truly that things aren’t right at home. But when her mother finally does get out of bed and her condition worsens Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

Themes of culture, mental illness and family are balanced with a sweet romance. For a feel good read with and important message.

Amazon: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumping will be released November 10th

Soulswift

Soulswift by [Megan Bannen]

In Gelya world she is a Vessel, a girl who channels the word of the One True God through song. She lives cloisted with other vessels of her faith, and she believes, —as all Ovinists do—that the world was saved when a saint imprisoned Elath the Great Demon centuries ago, saving humanity from earthly temptation.

But things are never that simple and when Gelya stumbles into a deadly cover-up by the Ovinist’s military she find herself reluctantly teamed up with Tavik, an enemy solider to survive. Tavik, belives Elath is actually a mother goddess who must be set free, but while he manages to open her prison he accidently turns Gelya into Elath unwilling human vessel.

Now the Ovinists are after them and they are in a race against the clock, she and Tavik must find a way to exorcise Elath’s presence from her body. A lot is on the line, but they aren’t sure what. If they are successful will they stop the countdown to the end of the world, or will they be the cause of the earth’s destruction.

Finally as Tavik and Gelya spend more time together another question remains, once Elath is exocised what will become of Gelya?

Amazon: Soulswift

Soulswift is due for release November 17th.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay