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: Poison Priestess (Lady Slayers #2) Author: Lana Popović Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction Publisher: Amulet Books Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: April 6, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Book 2 in the Lady Slayers series, about French murderess and fortune teller Catherine Monvoisin
In 17th-century Paris, 19-year-old Catherine Monvoisin is a well-heeled jeweler’s wife with a peculiar taste for the arcane. She lives a comfortable life, far removed from a childhood of abject destitution—until her kind spendthrift of a husband lands them both in debt. Hell-bent on avoiding a return to poverty, Catherine must rely on her prophetic visions and the grimoire gifted to her by a talented diviner to reinvent herself as a sorceress. With the help of the grifter Marie Bosse, Catherine divines fortunes in the IIle de la Citee—home to sorcerers and scoundrels.
There she encounters the Marquise de Montespan, a stunning noblewoman. When the Marquise becomes Louis XIV’s royal mistress with Catherine’s help, her ascension catapults Catherine to notoriety. Catherine takes easily to her glittering new life as the Sorceress La Voisin, pitting the depraved noblesse against one other to her advantage. The stakes soar ever higher when her path crosses with that of a young magician. A charged rivalry between sorceress and magician leads to Black Masses, tangled deceptions, and grisly murder—and sets Catherine on a collision course that threatens her own life.
In the 17th century, Catherine Monvoison is a 19-year-old wife of a jeweler in France. She was an orphan who had an encounter with a witch when she was a girl. She has the witch’s grimoire that she is dedicated to studying. One day, her friend Marie takes her to the dark side of the city where Marie reads palms. Catherine can see the future, so she starts reading for some of Marie’s clients. Catherine slowly builds a reputation as a seer, which leads her to the dangers of the King’s court.
I love stories about dark parts of history. This series is about women who were “lady slayers” throughout history. I hadn’t heard of Catherine Monvoison before, probably because she was a woman in the 17th century, but this was such a fascinating story.
I found this story to be a quick read. Catherine went through many stages of life, going from an orphanage to a middle class home and eventually to the French Court. The dark arts that Catherine practiced were fascinating to read about. Catherine was a seer and also created poisons from her grimoire. These fantastical aspects made this story exciting and fast paced.
This was such a great story!
Thank you Amulet Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Tigers, Not Daughters Author: Samantha Mabry Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 24, 2020 Rating: ★★★★
The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.
A year ago, Ana Torres fell out of her bedroom window to her death. Her younger three sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are dealing with their grief in different ways. Jessica acts out and has a dangerous relationship with her boyfriend. Iridian finds comfort in books and writing. Rosa tries to help animals. Strange things begin to happen in their house, and the girls decide that it must be Ana’s spirit communicating with them. They have to figure out what Ana is trying to tell them.
This was an intense story. The sisters were grieving for their sister, but their dad had other ways of dealing with the pain. He checked out of their lives, so they had to look after themselves. They had to grow up quickly, but they each had their own ways of coping.
I really liked the magical realism aspects of this story. Ana’s ghost appeared to her sisters and to the neighbors next door. She didn’t always appear as a person, but she would do things around the house to let them know she was there. There were also some storms that happened around her appearances, which added to the spooky atmosphere.
This was such a beautiful story!
Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry
The Marrow Thieves by Cheri Dimaline
Have you read Tigers, Not Daughters? What did you think of it?
Title: The Princess Will Save You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #1) Author: Sarah Henning Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Publisher: Tor Teen Source: Litjoy Format: Hardcover Release Date: July 7, 2020 Rating: ★★★★★
When a princess’s commoner true love is kidnapped to coerce her into a political marriage, she doesn’t give in—she goes to rescue him.
When her warrior father, King Sendoa, mysteriously dies, Princess Amarande of Ardenia is given what would hardly be considered a choice: Marry a stranger at sixteen or lose control of her family’s crown.
But Amarande was raised to be a warrior—not a sacrifice.
In an attempt to force her choice, a neighboring kingdom kidnaps her true love, stable boy Luca. With her kingdom on the brink of civil war and no one to trust, she’ll need all her skill to save him, her future, and her kingdom.
The Princess Will Save You is a YA fantasy adventure inspired by The Princess Bride, in which a princess must rescue her stable boy true love, from the acclaimed author of Sea Witch, Sarah Henning.
After Princess Amarande’s father dies suddenly, she is given orders to marry before she can become Queen. The Kings and Princes from the surrounding kingdoms arrive with marriage proposals, but she doesn’t like any of them. Amarande is in love with Luca, the stable boy. One evening, she goes to see Luca and finds a note that says he has been kidnapped and will only be returned if she marries Prince Rennard. Amarande leaves, following the tracks they left behind. She must save her love and her kingdom.
This story was inspired by The Princess Bride. I’ve never actually read or watched The Princess Bride, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I really loved this story!
I thought I had the story figured out pretty early. There was a note that appeared in the first few chapters after Amarande left to find Luca, and I thought that note had the solution to the kidnapping. There were some bombshell reveals in the final chapters, which really surprised me. I love it when a story can completely shock me at the end, even when I think I have it all figured out.
This was such a great story with a surprising ending! I can’t wait to read the sequel!
What to read next:
Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Have you read The Princess Will Save You? What did you think of it?
Title: The Near Witch Author: V.E. Schwab Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Publisher: Titan Books Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: March 12, 2019 (originally August 2, 2011) Rating: ★★★★★
Brand new edition of Victoria Schwab’s long out-of-print, stunning debut
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
There are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
A stranger comes to the town of Near one night. Lexi saw him before he disappeared. The night after he appears, a child goes missing. Everyone in town thinks the stranger must have stolen the child. Then more children disappear. A group of men start tracking the stranger to find the missing children. Lexi keeps thinking about the bedtime story of The Near Witch. She’s sure that the Near Witch is responsible for the missing children. Lexi meets the mysterious stranger, who helps her search for the Near Witch and the missing children.
This story reminded me of a children’s fairytale. Lexi was told the story of The Near Witch when she was a child. It was about a witch in their small town who was banished. The townspeople are divided on whether it was a true story or not. There was some mysterious magic in the town, which made Lexi believe the Near Witch story could be real. Both the Near Witch story and Lexi’s story had fairytale qualities.
This story had the beautiful poetic language of V.E. Schwab. The sentences read like a poem. There was a nursery rhyme that the children would sing about the Near Witch which was a poem. This was V.E. Schwab’s first novel, but it has her voice woven throughout it.
I really enjoyed this fantasy story!
What to read next:
Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Have you read The Near Witch? What did you think of it?
Title: A Taste for Love Author: Jennifer Yen Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Razorbill Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: February 2, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
For fans of Jenny Han, Jane Austen, and The Great British Baking Show, A Taste for Love, is a delicious rom com about first love, familial expectations, and making the perfect bao.
To her friends, high school senior Liza Yang is nearly perfect. Smart, kind, and pretty, she dreams big and never shies away from a challenge. But to her mom, Liza is anything but. Compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn, rebellious, and worst of all, determined to push back against all of Mrs. Yang’s traditional values, especially when it comes to dating.
The one thing mother and daughter do agree on is their love of baking. Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery. With college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies once and for all. But when Liza arrives on the first day of the bake-off, she realizes there’s a catch: all of the contestants are young Asian American men her mother has handpicked for Liza to date.
The bachelorette situation Liza has found herself in is made even worse when she happens to be grudgingly attracted to one of the contestants; the stoic, impenetrable, annoyingly hot James Wong. As she battles against her feelings for James, and for her mother’s approval, Liza begins to realize there’s no tried and true recipe for love.
Liza Yang helps out at her family’s restaurant and bakery, Yin and Yang. Her mother holds a competition every year for young bakers, with the prize of a scholarship. Mrs. Yang is eager to find husbands for her daughters. Her oldest daughter, Jeannie, is attending school in New York and is working as a fashion model. Liza has always been the rebellious daughter who dated American boys, rather than Asian boys. Liza is given the opportunity to help her mom judge the baking competition for the first time, but as soon as she sees the contestants, she realizes this year’s competition has been set up as a dating competition for her. Each of the contestants is an eligible Asian teen boy. One of the contestants is James, who has already gotten off on the wrong foot with Liza. Despite that, and even though Mrs. Yang approves of him, Liza can’t help but be attracted to James.
I’ve been binge watching the Great British Bake Off in the last few months, so this book was on trend for me. The competition that Mrs. Yang holds in the story is very similar to that baking competition. There was even an episode of the Bake Off that was referenced in the book that I watched a few days ago. The characters made a wide variety of baked goods in this story. I had to look up some that I had never heard of but they all sound delicious so I’ll have to try them!
This book also had me hooked when I realized it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. There have been so many retellings that it’s hard to get an original story. This one definitely worked for me. I really enjoyed this story because it wasn’t an exact copy of Pride and Prejudice. Some of the plot points were rearranged, but it followed the general story of the Jane Austen classic.
This was such a fun story. I recommend having sweet treats on hand while reading it!
Thank you Razorbill for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
American Panda by Gloria Chao
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Have you read A Taste for Love? What did you think of it?
Title: Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) Author: Cassandra Clare Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: March 3, 2020 Rating: ★★★★★
Chain of Gold, a Shadowhunters novel, is the first novel in a brand-new trilogy where evil hides in plain sight and love cuts deeper than any blade. .
Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.
But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.
Cordelia Carstairs’ father was accused of a crime and arrested, so her mother and brother brought their family to London to start over their lives. Her mother wants Cordelia to be married, but Cordelia is interested in learning how to fight as a Shadowhunter. Cordelia is reunited with her childhood friends Lucie and James Herondale. The world of the Shadowhunters has been quiet for years, without demon attacks to train the younger generation. However, after Cordelia arrives, they encounter some demon attacks during daylight. These demons aren’t like ones they’ve ever fought before because they appear in the daytime. The new generation of Shadowhunters has to figure out how to defeat the new demons while also dealing with their personal relationship problems.
This is the first series I’ve read that follows different generations of a family. The Infernal Devices, which is about the parents of the characters in this book, is one of my favourite series. I loved this continuation of their story. I thought I would miss the parents in this story, but they were in the story enough. There were things the kids had to keep secret from their parents, including their demon battles, which made the story exciting.
Though there were about 6 primary characters in this story, they were all distinct people. It would definitely be helpful to read The Infernal Devices first, because the parents of these characters were introduced in those books. I actually had to make a family tree when I first started reading so I could keep all of the characters straight. However, they each had different personalities and storylines, so it was easy to keep them distinct in my mind.
I loved this start to the new Shadowhunters series!
What to read next:
Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Other books in the series:
Chain of Iron
Have you read Chain of Gold? What did you think of it?
Title: My Last Summer with Cass Author: Mark Crilley Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 16, 2021 Rating: ★★★★
This One Summer meets The Edge of Seventeen in this poignant coming-of-age YA graphic novel about two childhood friends at a crossroads in their lives and art from the author of Mastering Manga.
Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York.
When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her. She even eats chicken feet now! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.
But when one girl betrays the other’s trust on the eve of what is supposed to be their greatest artistic feat yet, can their friendship survive? Can their art?
Cass and Megan met when their families would rent cottages for the summer in the same town. They both loved to create art, and even got in trouble for drawing on one of the cabin walls together. When they were in high school, Cass moved to New York City with her mom. Megan went to visit her one summer, and she got a taste of Cass’s mature artist lifestyle. Cass insisted that Megan act like her, by drinking, going to parties, and painting more mature subjects. Cass and Megan decide to collaborate like they did when they were children, but the sudden appearance of Megan’s parents causes her to make a decision that could ruin their friendship.
This was a great story about growing up and growing apart. Cass and Megan had a lot in common when they were kids, but their lives changed when they grew up. Megan was still very much controlled by her parents, whereas Cass had a lot of freedom to do anything she wanted in New York City. Even though the two friends had similar childhoods, they ended up on very different paths in life.
I loved the art in this graphic novel. The characters had very expressive faces. The drawing style reminded me of Disney princesses. This story makes a perfect graphic novel, since it’s about two girls who are artists.
I really enjoyed this coming of age graphic novel!
Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Mooncakes by Wendy Xu, Suzanne Walker
You Have a Match by Emma Lord
About the author:
Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment.
Title: Bruised Author: Tanya Boteju Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 23, 2021 Rating: ★★★★
To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.
So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.
The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing.
Since Daya’s parents died in a crash that she survived, she has given herself bruises. She keeps bruising herself so she can physically feel the emotional pain from losing her parents. Daya learns about roller derby teams, and she realizes that’s an activity that will give her lots of bruises. The sport is more physically grueling and painful than she expected. She idolizes the star of the team, Kat, and she befriends Kat’s sister, Shani. Roller derby opens up Daya to exploring her own feelings and finding her personal strength.
This was a coming of age story. Daya had to learn to accept the death of her parents, and she also was coming to understand her own romantic feelings. Daya blamed herself for her parents’ death, since she survived their car crash, so she self harms by bruising herself. Daya also discovered her sexual identity. She became vulnerable by beginning a relationship with a girl that she didn’t expect to have. Daya had a lot to discover about herself in this story.
Despite the serious subject matter for most of the book, there were some entertaining characters. Daya’s aunt and uncle who were her guardians were quirky actors. They would dance and play games without worrying about how they looked to the outside world. Daya met some older characters through her roller skating. They were former roller skaters who still liked to get dressed up and help the younger skaters. They were all funny characters who lightened the mood of the story.
This was a great young adult story!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.