Title: Gamayun Tales I Author: Alexander Utkin Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel, Fantasy Publisher: Nobrow Source: Publisher Format: Paperback Release Date: March 10, 2020 Rating: ★★★★★
Enter a world of magic and adventure in this stunning series based on traditional Russian folklore. Collected into a beautiful new paperback edition for the first time!
Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Russian folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books!
Series Overview: The Gamayun Tales are colorful stories based on Slavic mythology.
This graphic novel is a collection of stories told by Gamayun, a bird in Russian folklore who can see the future. The tales begin with talking animals, then they tell the story of a merchant and his family and the deals he makes with kings without understanding the consequences.
Each of the tales in this book were connected but they could be read on their own as well. Sometimes folktales with a moral or a lesson can have a tragic outcomes. I found that these stories had positive endings, even if they didn’t seem so at first. Everything worked out in the end, which makes it a fun, positive story for kids.
This was a beautiful book. It is printed on thick paper, which makes it feel like an art book. The illustrations had vibrant colours that made the story a fun read. The beautiful illustrations matched the tone of the folktales perfectly.
This is such a beautiful graphic novel of Russian folktales. The story continues in Gamayun Tales II, so I’m excited to read it soon!
Thank you Nobrow for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Gamayun Tales II by Alexander Utkin
How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy
Other books in the series:
Gamayun Tales II
Have you read Gamayun Tales I? What did you think of it?
Title: Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy #1) Author: Maggie Stiefvater Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Publisher: Scholastic Press Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: November 5, 2019 Rating: ★★★★★
The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.
And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.
Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.
Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. Dreamers can bring things into the real world from their dreams, but if the dreamer dies, the things they have dreamed will permanently go to sleep. Jordan Hennessey is a dreamer and a thief. The dreamers are also being hunted. Carmen Farooq-Lane is one of the hunters, who had a brother who was a dreamer and a killer. The dreamers must try to survive the hunters but also the killers that are only found in their dreams.
This story had Maggie Stiefvater’s beautiful poetic language. The rhythm of the sentences almost made it feel like I was in a dream while reading it. There are so many small scenes that seem unrelated to the plot at first, but they end up having an important clue or introducing an important character. I think you could read this book over and over and notice new things every time.
This book is the first in a trilogy that is based on The Raven Cycle. Ronan was one of the main characters in The Raven Cycle. Ronan is a complex character who could probably fill multiple book series with his extensive history as a dreamer. This story mentioned some of the things that happened in The Raven Cycle, but I would recommend reading The Raven Cycle before this one, so that you have the background of the characters.
I loved this book! The second one in the series comes out in a couple of weeks, so I can’t wait to read it!
What to read next:
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater, Morgan Beem (illustrator)
Have you read Call Down the Hawk? What did you think of it?
Title: Dark One, Vol. 1 Author: Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy Publisher: Vault Comics Source: Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: May 18, 2021 Rating: ★★★★
Visions of a dark and fantastic world haunt Paul Tanasin, but when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus–a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer–He’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as The Dark One, and shatter everything.
Paul Tanasin is haunted by visions of a girl who claims to be his sister. He is sent to therapy but he can’t explain what is going on. One day he is captured and brought to a fantasy world, Mirandus, where he is destined to be the Dark One. Meanwhile, his mother is a attorney representing a serial killer. This murderer has an unusual request that she hasn’t seen before, but she must do her best to give him what he wants. Both Paul and his mother must face their demons in the real world and in Mirandus.
I like it when fantasy stories begin in the real world and then transport the characters to a fantasy land. There were some hints that something greater was going on in Paul’s life when he was haunted by a girl claiming to be his sister. He was destined to fulfill his role in the “narrative” that the people of Mirandus had to follow.
This story had the narrative trope of the “chosen one.” When Paul reached Mirandus, he was told that he was meant to play a particular role there. It didn’t take long for Paul to start to fill in that role, even though he didn’t want to at first. If someone is told that they are something enough times, they start to believe it, whether it’s good or bad.
This graphic novel finished on a cliffhanger so I’ll have to read the next one!
Thank you Vault Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
White Sand, Vol. 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, Julius Gopez
Have you read Dark One, Vol. 1? What did you think of it?
Title: A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology Author: Dhonielle Clayton (editor) Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBT, Short Stories Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers Source: Purchased from Owlcrate Format: Hardcover Release Date: December 8, 2020 Rating: ★★★★★
From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes a young adult fantasy short story collection featuring some of the best own-voices children’s authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Libba Bray (The Diviners), Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Natalie C. Parker (Seafire), and many more. Edited by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles).
In the fourth collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors deliver stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world.
AUTHORS INCLUDE: Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, Victoria Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone, and a to-be-announced debut author/short-story contest winner
This is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories written by diverse authors. These stories had characters of a variety of races, religions, and gender identities.
I used to think that I didn’t like short stories because the ones I read in school were literary and complicated to understand. If I had been introduced to collections like this book when I was younger, I would have read many more short stories before now!
Two of the stories are from the worlds of fantasy book series. The Scarlet Woman: A Gemma Doyle Story by Libby Bray is from the Gemma Doyle series. A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab is from the Shades of Magic series. I’ve only read the Shades of Magic series, so it was fun to see this story from before the events of the series. I really want to read the Gemma Doyle series after reading that story.
I enjoyed all of these stories. I would read any of them if they were expanded into a full length novel. I had only read a handful of these authors before. I will definitely be reading more of the authors that were new to me.
I highly recommend this collection to YA fantasy and science fiction readers!
What to read next:
Vampires Never Get Old; Tales With Fresh Bite by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker (editors)
Fresh Ink: An Anthology by Lamar Giles (editor)
Have you read A Universe of Wishes? What did you think of it?
Title: These Feathered Flames (These Feathered Flames #1) Author: Alexandra Overy Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Publisher: Inkyard Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: April 20, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale
When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.
But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.
As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.
Twin sisters are destined to become a queen and a Firebird. Once their fates were decided as children, Izaveta stayed with her mother to prepare to be the queen. Her sister Asya traveled with her great-aunt, the current Firebird. The role of the Firebird is to take something from someone who uses magic, to make sure magic remains balanced. This could be the caster’s heart or a limb. When the current queen, and the twins’ mother, dies suddenly when the girls are seventeen, Asya must return to the palace to reunite with her sister. Asya must find the source of the magic at the palace while Izaveta must convince the council that she is ready to be queen.
This story followed dual narratives of Izaveta and Asya. Both of them had fascinating stories. In their own ways, they had to prove that they were old enough and strong enough to fulfill the roles that they were born to do. Since they were teenage girls, they were overlooked and underestimated, but they had to stand up to their enemies.
There were tons of twists in this story. The death of their mother was kind of glossed over at the beginning, and it ended up being part of a twist at the end. Everyone had secrets that led to a fast paced, exciting ending. It ended on a cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the next book!
I highly recommend this exciting new fantasy!
Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
About the author:
ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she’s not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.
Have you read These Feathered Flames? What did you think of it?
Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1) Author: Brigid Kemmerer Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Publisher: Bloomsbury YA Source: Purchased Format: Paperback Release Date: January 29, 2019 Rating: ★★★★★
Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.
While waiting for her brother one night in D.C., Harper is whisked away to Emberfell. Prince Rhen is the heir to Emberfell, which has been cursed for years. A monster terrorizes the country and the people haven’t seen the royal family in a long time. Harper is the key to breaking the curse, and she will be Rhen’s last chance because if he doesn’t break the curse that season, he will never have a chance again. Harper and Rhen have to break the curse and protect Emberfell from the forces that want to break it.
This Beauty and the Beast retelling was set in a fantasy world and our real world. Harper was in Washington D.C. when she was taken by Rhen’s guard, Grey, to a Emberfell. She had a cellphone in Emberfell but it didn’t work because they don’t have electricity. I loved that this fantasy story included the real world because it makes it feel like our world is connected to the fantasy land.
Harper has cerebral palsy. This representation of a disability was great because I haven’t seen much representation of different abilities in fantasy novels. This was part of Harper’s personality but not her entire character. I really liked this representation.
I really enjoyed this fantasy! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
What to read next:
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Other books in the series:
A Heart So Fierce and Broken
A Vow So Bold and Deadly
Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? What did you think of it?
Title: Sugar and Spite Author: Gail D. Villanueva Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Fantasy Publisher: Scholastic Press Source: Publisher via Edelweiss Format: Ebook Release Date: April 20, 2021 Rating: ★★★★
Can a bully be defeated by a magical love potion?
Jolina can’t take Claudine’s bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she’s still in-training to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.
And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine’s hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn’t just stop bullying Jolina — now she wants to be Jolina’s BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.
But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person’s ability to love — or hate — will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm…
Magic and reality mingle in this brilliant new middle-grade novel by Gail D. Villanueva that asks whether it’s ever okay to take away someone’s free will.
Eleven-year-old Jolina has moved with her family from the city of Manila in the Philippines to an island town to live with her grandfather. Her grandfather practices arbularyo magic, and he is teaching it to Jolina. When Jolina is bullied by Claudine, the popular, and rich, girl in her bible study class, she decides to make a love potion to make Claudine like her. Jolina has to be careful because she hasn’t made a potion like that on her own before. However, every spell and potion has consequences that Jolina will have to face during a powerful storm.
This is the first book that I’ve read that is set in the Philippines, though I’ve had many friends from there. This setting really became a character in the story. It had a vibrant description. I love it when the food from different cultures is described in books. There were a particular kind of candy, called yema balls, which played an important role in the story. There was even a recipe to make them at the end of the book, so I may have to try them!
There were some potentially triggering events at the end of the book. There was a typhoon and the death of a pet. These were emotional scenes that could be triggering to some readers, but these events were crucial to the plot.
I really enjoyed this middle grade story!
Thank you Scholastic Press and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
About the author:
Gail D. Villanueva is the author of Sugar And Spite (Scholastic, 2021). Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly (Scholastic, 2019), was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, an Amazon Best Book of the Month Editor’s Pick, and a NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Born and based in the Philippines, Gail’s daily routine includes running a web design company with her husband while trying to keep up with the shenanigans of their many pets—dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and random birds they befriend in the backyard. Learn more at http://www.gaildvillanueva.com.
Title: Hazel and Gray (Faraway #2) Author: Nic Stone Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Story Publisher: Amazon Publishing Source: Purchased Format: Ebook Release Date: December 15, 2020 Rating: ★★★★★
Two anxious young lovers lost in the woods. A beckoning mansion in a dark clearing. A short modern-day retelling of Hansel and Gretel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin.
It’s bad enough that Hazel and Gray have defied the demands of Hazel’s foul stepfather. The Monster has forbidden their romance. Now they’ve awakened in the forest, phones dead, hours past curfew. But not far away is a grand estate in the middle of nowhere. The door is open. In this short story about choosing your own path, the fury of the Monster that awaits them back home may be nothing compared to what lies ahead.
Hazel and Gray are teenage lovers who have been forbidden to be together. They sneak away to a forest to be together, but they end up getting lost. They find a house that’s all lit up, with a stream of people heading inside. Hazel convinces Gray to go inside to find help, but they weren’t expecting the monster within.
This is a dark retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Instead of being brother and sister, they are lovers. This story had dark and mature themes, including drugs and sex trafficking. It’s a young adult short story, but for a more mature young adult audience.
Though this was a short story, it felt complete. It was fast paced, and quite chilling at times. Sometimes, I have questions after reading a short story, but this one answered all of the questions I had. I would love to see a full length novel about these characters or more dark fairytales from Nic Stone!
This is a great short story in the Faraway series!
What to read next:
The Princess Game by Soman Chainani
The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell
Other books in the series:
The Prince and the Troll
The Princess Game
Have you read Hazel and Gray? What did you think of it?
Title: The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts #1) Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: April 6, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.
The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.
When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.
As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human. From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.
Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto was preparing for her high school graduation when she was suddenly killed. She wakes up in a place called Infinity, where she’s offered a pill to numb the human pain that her consciousness still feels. She’s rescued by a team of rebels who are working against Queen Ophelia. Ophelia was the virtual assistant that everyone used on Earth, but she’s taken over Infinity with plans to erase humans and fill the world with her Residents. Nami is special because though she is human, she can alter her appearance to look like a Resident. Nami has to work with the rebel group to save the humans and defeat Ophelia and her sons.
This was an original story about death. I was enjoying Nami’s story in the first few chapters, where she was living like a normal teenager. Then, she was murdered and sent to Infinity, the afterlife for human consciousness. It was strange to be thrown into this new world that is so different from our world, but it was fast paced and mysterious that I had to keep reading.
This world had complicated relationships between the humans and the Residents. The humans served the Residents, and didn’t have awareness. The pill that they were offered after waking up in Infinity removed any awareness they had, so they could follow orders from the Residents. There were different courts that they could be sent to, including War and Death, which didn’t have positive outcomes for the humans sent there. The rare few who could escape without taking the pill and keep their awareness tried to rebel against the Residents.
The final chapters of this book were really surprising. There was a character who I found suspicious from the beginning. I was right in suspecting there was something wrong with that character but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I hope there will be a sequel because I really want to know what happens next!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Have you read The Infinity Courts? What did you think of it?
Title: Secrets of Camp Whatever, Vol. 1 Author: Chris Grine Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Graphic Novel Publisher: Oni Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 30, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
“Just the right amount of chills for tweens who enjoy supernatural suspense.” — KIRKUS
Perfect for fans of Lumberjanes and Brain Camp, there’s more than mosquitos at Camp Whatever and Willow will need to face truths about herself and her family as summer camp dread goes head to head with the supernatural.
Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family—and fate itself—seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.
Eleven-year-old Willow’s family has moved back to her dad’s strange hometown of Nowhere. She’s going to go to his old camp, Camp Whatever. He enjoyed the camp when he went there, but one of the campers went missing while he was there. As soon as Willow boards the ship to go to the camp, she can see that it is going to be a strange week. She ends up encountering supernatural mysteries, including gnomes, Bigfoot, and a possible vampire, all hidden in the fog of Camp Whatever.
This was such a fun graphic novel. Going to a new camp can be intimidating enough, without the possibility of encountering supernatural creatures. There were a couple of warning signs before Willow left for camp, such as when her dad said a kid went missing while he was there and there was a creepy clown holding a balloon standing on the dock to the ship. I could tell things would get creepy after those two events.
This story kept me guessing until the end. There were so many different supernatural creatures that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The setting of a camp can be exciting enough, with kids isolated in a space with limited supervision, but the addition of fantasy creatures made it even more exciting.
I really enjoyed this graphic novel! I can’t wait to read more in this series.
Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooklyn Allen
Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty, Steph Mided
Have you read Secrets of Camp Whatever, Vol. 1? What did you think of it?