Review: Miss Meteor

Title: Miss Meteor
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.

Review:

Lita Perez has never felt like she fit in in her town of Meteor. Years ago, a meteor hit their town, giving it the name of Meteor. When it hit, Lita was created from the star dust. She grew up with the appearance of a human, but she’s from the stars. Now, that background is starting to affect Lita. She wants to fulfill her dream of becoming Miss Meteor by winning the beauty pageant in their town. She gets the help of her former best friend, Chicky, and Chicky’s older sisters who have competed in the pageant in the past. Chicky and Lita have never been the popular girls, and they’ve both been bullied, so they have to work extra hard to make Lita stand out in the competition.

This story had great queer representation. One of the characters was transgender. The way it was described by that character was that his family thought he was a girl when he was born, but they were wrong. This description takes the “blame” off the person who comes out as transgender, since they didn’t choose to be that way. Instead it shows that other people were wrong in assuming he was a girl as a child. I loved this description, since it takes the pressure off the person for being transgender and shows that it isn’t a choice.

There was a lot of bullying in this story, including transphobia, xenophobia, and homophobia. These acts and abuses were addressed. At first, I found it shocking that characters were saying these things to other characters in such a casual way. This shows how bullying can happen in casual ways, including by people who are closely related to you. Eventually it was addressed, but it was upsetting and shocking to read at some points.

The one thing that I would have liked to see more of is an explanation on how Lita came to be in Meteor. It wasn’t very clear how she was created from star dust. It was an interesting and fun science fiction storyline which left me with some questions.

I really enjoyed this original pageant story.

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Have you read Miss Meteor? What did you think of it?

Review: Winterwood

Title: Winterwood
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic,where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.

Review:

Nora Walker lives in Fir Haven near the woods. Her family has always had a special connection to the woods, which are alive. The Walker women can enter the woods on a full moon and take the lost things that appear in the woods. One evening, Nora finds a boy in the woods. He’s a boy who went missing from a nearby camp a couple of weeks before. Nora is surprised that the boy, Oliver, is still alive. However, Oliver wasn’t the only one who went missing that night. Nora has to use her family lore to figure out what really happened to Oliver the night he went missing.

I loved the magical setting in this story. The woods near Nora’s home had specific rules for her family. They could only enter on the night of the full moon because the woods were asleep. Things that went missing would appear in the woods, including the missing boy, Oliver. The woods were a character as well, because they would come alive on the other nights, meaning no one should enter. There were some natural elements that played an important role in this story as well. There was a big storm, which cut off access to the town from everywhere else. There was a life changing fire at the end. I loved how important the setting was in this story.

The ending of this story was perfect. All the clues to what actually happened were throughout the story, but I didn’t catch on until the answer was revealed. This was a clever magical story. It could be solved by the reader, but it was a pleasant surprise for me.

This is a beautiful story.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Have you read Winterwood? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Whispering Pines

Title: Whispering Pines
Author: Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Science Fiction
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A young boy and girl who must protect their small town from otherworldly forces threatening to destroy it.

Rae’s father vanished without a trace—and Rae knows what happened to him. But no one believes her when she says that her father didn’t run off, that he was actually taken. Now, a year of therapy later, Rae’s mother decides they need a fresh start, and so they move to a new town in the hope that life can return to normal.

The problem is, there is nothing normal about the town of Whispering Pines.

No one knows this better than Caden. He’s lived in Whispering Pines his entire life, and he’s seen more than his fair share of weird—starting with his own family, as the town is the perfect home base for his mother’s ghost hunting business.

When several kids go missing and then show up like zombies with their eyes removed, many locals brush it off. Just another day in Whispering Pines. But Caden has a dark secret, one that may explain why someone is stealing eyes. And Rae, who knows how it feels to not be believed, may be just the person Caden needs to help him put things right.

Review:

Rae’s father disappeared after making a disturbing discovery at his job. Her mother moved her and her older sister across the country to a small town called Whispering Pines after her father’s disappearance. Whispering Pines is a strange town that has people who walk goats, and a rule at the school that you can’t walk around with garlic around your neck. Rae moves in across the street from Caden, whose family has a ghost hunting business. Caden’s brother also disappeared, during a ghost hunting mission. Now more students are disappearing, and the ones who return are missing their eyes. Rae and Caden investigate what is happening in their town, before they disappear too.

This story reminded me a lot of Stranger Things. There is a large science laboratory in the town. One of the men who works there, Patrick, always seems to show up just when something goes wrong in the town. There seemed to be something supernatural happening, as well as some science experiments gone wrong.

I loved the quirky town of Whispering Pines. This setting was a character itself. It was named after the woods, that make a whispering sound in the wind. There were odd rules for the town, such as no wearing garlic. It was known for people walking their goats, which was also odd. These elements were strange but also funny.

I was so surprised at the ending. The epilogue started a new storyline for the next book, which sounds even more exciting than this one. I’m going to have a hard time waiting for the next book!

Thank you Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Last Pick by Jason Walz

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

About the authors:

Heidi Lang managed to stumble upon the two best jobs in the world: writing for kids and walking dogs. If she’s not out on the trails surrounded by wagging tails and puppy kisses, she’s probably hunched over her laptop working on her next book. She lives in northern California with her husband and two adventure-loving dogs, and she is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines. Find her on Twitter @HidLang, or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at HeidiandKatiWrite.com.

Kati Bartkowski was originally drawn to illustration before she got swept up in the world of words. Nowadays she’s a fan of creating fantastical creatures and feisty heroines in both mediums. If she’s not reading, writing, or drawing, she’s probably chasing after her high energy little girl. She lives in northern California and is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines. Find her on Twitter @KTBartkowski, or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at HeidiandKatiWrite.com.

Blog tour schedule:

Have you read Whispering Pines? What did you think of it?

Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster series… 

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

Review:

Emilia and Vittoria are twin witches who live among humans in Sicily. One night, Emilia finds her twin sister’s body with her heart torn out. There is a man standing over her body, who Emilia assumes is her killer. Emilia starts investigating her twin’s murder, which leads to her summoning a demon prince from Hell, named Wrath. She is drawn into the mystery of disappearing witches and demons invading the city.

I loved the mysterious atmosphere of this story. It was dark and mystical, and some parts were gruesome and bloody. There were dueling systems in the town, the religious group and the witches. Though these two groups didn’t seem to have much in common, they were often found in the same places.

The murder mystery played an important part in the plot. While Emilia was investigating her sister’s unusual murder, she also learned about the murders of other witches nearby. The murders were similar, with the hearts being cut out of the witches. Since these murders happen at the same time that demons start showing up, Emilia suspects a connection. I was really surprised at the solution to the murder mystery. The answer seemed so obvious when it was revealed, but I didn’t guess it.

This was a great witchy mystery. I can’t wait for the next one!

Thank you JIMMY Patterson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Have you read Kingdom of the Wicked? What did you think of it?

Review: The Archived (The Archived #1)

Title: The Archived (The Archived #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Review:

Mackenzie Bishop’s family moves to a renovated hotel for a fresh start after the death of her brother and her grandfather. Mac had a special bond with her grandfather: they were both Keepers, people who return the dead to the Library where they belong. The dead are called Histories, and sometimes they escape the shelves in the Library where they are kept, and they can wreck havoc in the world if they get out. Mac meets Wes, another Keeper who often visits her new building. Mac has to adjust to her new home and the Histories that are kept there, while also piecing together the crumbling Library.

This was an original ghost story. The “ghosts” are called histories, and they are kept in a library. When they get out, they can become dangerous, so it’s important that a Keeper returns them to the library using their special key. I loved how the library and books played an important role in protecting people from the ghosts.

There were some flashbacks in this story to when Mac was taught how to be a Keeper from her grandfather, who she calls Da. These flashbacks were jarring at first, because I didn’t know who he was and when these flashbacks were happening. A couple of chapters into the story, I got into the flow of the narrative and I loved Mac’s voice in the story.

This is a great, original ghost story!

What to read next:

The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • The Unbound

Have you read The Archived? What did you think of it?

Review: Agnes at the End of the World

Title: Agnes at the End of the World
Author: Kelly McWilliams
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?

Review:

Agnes lives in a cult called Red Creek. She was born there, to a mother who came from outside the cult and a father who is descended from the founder of the cult. Agnes also has a secret: she meets with a nurse from the Outside to get insulin for her brother who has type 1 diabetes. The prophet of their town says that getting outside help is a sin, because he can provide everything they need, but Agnes knows that her brother will die if he doesn’t get his medication. One day, Agnes meets with the nurse’s son and learns of a mysterious virus that is attacking people and animals on the Outside. She begins to question whether the leaders of her town have the right answers or if they’ve been lying to them about the dangers that are on the Outside.

I was drawn to this story because of the cult theme, but I found it so relevant because of the viral pandemic. This book would have been written before the COVID-19 pandemic, though it was published this summer. It was eerily similar to the current pandemic. Some symptoms were similar, like starting with a high fever, while others were different, such as people forming a red shell over their skin. This was a creepy read for right now.

There were some heartbreaking parts of this story as well. Agnes’s brother suffered with his diabetes before he started receiving treatment. The men in the cult had multiple wives, including child brides. There was also child abuse. These things were considered normal and accepted by the leaders of the community. They would make any rules they wanted, and expect everyone to follow them. Agnes realized that it’s important to question where these society rules come from and who they benefit, to understand if they are actually for the greater good.

This was a powerful story with a beautiful ending.

What to read next:

The Grey Sisters by Jo Treggiari

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Have you read Agnes at the End of the World? What did you think of it?

Review: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales of Dangerous Magic
Author: Leigh Bardugo, Sara Kipin (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Purchased at BookCon 2018
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Review:

This short story collection has six tales from the world of the Grishaverse. These tales are based on real folk tales and fairy tales, set in the Grisha world. These tales are:

  • Ayama and the Thorn Wood: A tale about a creature like the Minotaur from Greek mythology
  • The Too-Clever Fox: A tale about a clever fox who outsmarts other animals
  • The Witch of Duva: A retelling of Hansel and Gretel
  • Little Knife: A tale where men had to compete for the chance to marry a duke’s daughter
  • The Soldier Prince: A retelling of The Nutcracker
  • When Water Sang Fire: A retelling of The Little Mermaid

My favourite story was The Witch of Duva. The main character, Nadya, escapes from her father and stepmother and enters the forest where she meets Magda, a witch. It had a surprising twist ending that was very clever and unlike any version of Hansel and Gretel that I’ve read before.

I loved the illustrations with these stories. Each story had its own set of illustrations that bordered the pages. The story started out with one small picture. As the story progressed, the illustrations would grow around the border. These illustrations reflected parts of the story. These were very creative and beautiful pictures that matched the stories perfectly.

This is an amazing book that accompanies the Grishaverse novels!

What to read next:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Other books in the series:

Have you read Language of Thorns? What did you think of it?

Review: Horrid

Title: Horrid
Author: Katrina Leno
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Owlcrate box
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.

Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?

Review:

After Jane’s father dies, Jane and her mother, Ruth, move across the country to Ruth’s family home in the small town of Bells Hollow. The house has been abandoned since Ruth’s mother died years ago. There is a lot of mystery that surrounds the house, which is avoided by everyone in town. Jane quickly gets settled in her new life, but then she starts hearing things in the house. There are things hidden behind the locked doors, which holds a dark family secret.

I loved the mystery elements of this story. Jane loves Agatha Christie novels, and some were mentioned in the story. These were ones that I had never read, but clues in those stories also tied into the mystery in this book.

The house was quite creepy. Many parts of this story weren’t realistic, so that made the story a little less scary. For example, the roses in the garden continued to grow after being chopped down, which seemed fantastical and took away some of the fear of the house. However, the mystery behind the house was slowly unraveled, which made me keep reading.

The only problem I had with this book is that I had a lot of questions at the end. There were a few loose ends that I would love to know the answers to. At the same time, this adds to the mystery of the story, since some parts are left unsolved.

This was an exciting fantasy and horror novel.

What to read next:

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

Have you read Horrid? What did you think of it?

Review: Dear Justyce (Dear Martin #2)

Title: Dear Justyce (Dear Martin #2)
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the stunning and hard-hitting sequel to the New York Timesbestseller Dear Martin, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American prison system.

Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan’s story unravels.

From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone’s newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.

Review:

Quan Banks is an incarcerated teen who writes letters to his old friend, Justyce. Quan had a troubled childhood, witnessing the arrest of his father and his step-father abusing his mother. He joined a crime group, and was arrested in connection with the shooting death of a police officer. Quan writes to Justyce to work through his feelings about being incarcerated and to possibly get some help with his case.

This is the perfect companion novel for Dear Martin, though there wasn’t meant to be a sequel. The boys Justyce and Quan have things in common even though they have different life situations. They’re from the same neighbourhood and went to the same schools, but have different futures.

There was a lot of tension in the story, due to the fact that we don’t know why Quan is in prison until a few chapters into the story. There were many important scenes about Quan’s childhood, each event leading to his time in prison. There were some uncomfortable scenes that were hard to read, such as when Quan’s father was arrested. It’s devastating to think of a child having to go through these things, but this is a reality for many children.

Though Quan tried to be successful and work hard, he was often discouraged by the people around him. When he studied hard for a math test and got a very good grade, everyone assumed he must have cheated. These events eventually made Quan believe that he didn’t deserve that kind of success, leading him to a crime group. When Quan was imprisoned, he had a great support team around him who believed in him. Many people in his situation don’t have the same kind of support, so unfortunately most of that part was fictionalized. However, I’m glad that Quan got to have a happy ending in this story.

I could talk about this book for hours. This is definitely required reading, and it’s the perfect companion to Dear Martin. I highly recommend this book!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Other books in the series:

Have you read Dear Justyce? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: A Golden Fury

Title: A Golden Fury
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists. 

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Review:

Thea Hope is the daughter of an alchemist, who has been trying to make the Philsopher’s Stone. Just before her mother can complete it, she is taken over by madness. Thea finds her mother’s notes, which says anyone who creates the Stone will go insane. Because of her mother’s madness, Thea is sent to find her father in Oxford, who doesn’t know she exists. Her father is also an alchemist who is trying to figure out how to make the Stone. When someone close to her father becomes mad with the Stone, Thea has to run away again to find some way to complete the Stone herself and end this curse.

This was a fast paced story. Every time it seemed like things were going well for Thea and she was doing what she planned, there would be a drastic event that changed everything. Thea had a strong character development. She had grown into a different, more mature person by the end of the story. I really liked how the story and characters developed.

I’m not interested in science, but I liked the alchemy in this book. It was a combination of science with some myth surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone. The alchemists had to use a wide range of knowledge to complete their work, including knowing multiple different languages. I learned a lot about alchemy and the mythical Philosopher’s Stone in this story.

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

About the author:

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Have you read A Golden Fury? What did you think of it?