Lane dresses and acts like a boy because women aren’t allowed to live or work on ships as they might be mistaken for pirates. A woman pirate killed the queen and since then, women are forbidden to be onboard. Lane’s father is worried about her safety and her secret being revealed so he wants her to live with the mother she hasn’t seen for many years but Lane is determined to stay on the ship. Aden barters a hiding spot on Lane’s ship. He’s running away and he’s the prince. Kemp is second in command under the captain, Lane’s father. He’s the gun master and horrible. He’s constantly causing rifts between crew members and he’s undermining the captain every chance he gets. Kemp accuses Aden of pouring water into the barrels of gunpowder. Aden isn’t guilty because he was with Lane the entire time but neither of them admits that, so Aden accepts the duel proposed by Kemp. Lane discovers a missive that Aden’s been carrying telling him to get help from a neighboring ruler and that’s where he’s trying to go. Mutiny, secrets, backstabbing and survival are themes of this story but the main themes are self discovery, following your dreams and love. An adventure worth reading, 4 stars!
The Twin by Natasha Preston
An evenly paced YA thriller!
Iris and Ivy are twins with divorced parents. Iris has lived with the mom and Ivy with the Dad for quite a few years. Since their mom died in an accident, Iris now lives with Ivy and their dad. The twins haven’t been close since they were separated and it’s awkward now that they’ve been forced together again. Iris refuses to talk about their mom or go clean up her belongings and clear out the home. Ivy invites Iris to hang out with her but Iris seems to always have plans already set up and usually with Ivy’s friends but excluding Ivy. Iris keeps pushing herself into Ivy’s life, every aspect of it, to the point where she’s driving Ivy mad. Ivy meets with a past friend of Iris’s and discovers that there’s something sinister about Iris and danger is surrounding Ivy. An evenly paced young adult thriller!
The Queen’s Secret by Melissa de la Cruz
The kingdom’s balance is shaken in this duology finale!
The kingdom’s balance is shaken in this duology finale!
In the imaginary world of Avantine, Lilac is now married to King Hansen. The kingdom’s citizens blame her for the odd and scary events that take place. They believe she’s a witch with dark magic. Strange deaths shake the balance in the kingdom and when her mother’s palace is destroyed, no one and nowhere feels safe. Cal and his cohorts have to work quickly to solve the problem and help rebuild their kingdom’s safety.
Likes/dislikes: The repeated mentions of past events became tedious. The relationships fell into place too conveniently and quickly towards the ending of the book. I would have liked to have more background on Jander and the demon wreaking havoc in the kingdom because that would have made the world building stronger and the story more interesting. The unwanted marriage between Lilac and the king overshadowed everything.
Mature Content: PG-13 for implied sex, gentle kissing, urgent nondescript kiss.
Language: PG for 4 swears and no f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 for bloody deaths by stabbing and falling; messy, bloody death of a horse.
Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed.
The Moonlight Blade by Tessa Barbosa
In Tigang, Narra wants her mother to stay home but she insists on going to the capital to confess that she kept her marked daughter alive even when the law stated she must die. Narra is the marked daughter because of the birthmarks on her neck, which people believe makes her cursed. Her mother is imprisoned and Narra enters the competition that takes place every ten years to find a new ruler. She wants to win the competition so she can rescue her mother. Narra enters the trials with no magic, no weapons and no help. It takes all of her willpower and wits to get through it all.
Likes/dislikes: The vocabulary in the world building and introduction of characters gets confusing but it makes more sense as the story goes on. The story felt disjointed because of the competition, the past lives and the magic not necessarily blending well together. I did like Narra, the main character, and her companions, Virian and Dayen, and how they worked together and helped each other.
Mature content: PG for brief kissing
Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs.
Violence: PG for cuts on palms of hands as a gift of blood to begin a ceremony and a nondescript beheading.
Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with the following: olive skin, brown skin, deep russet skin, dark Tigangi skin, and dark brown skin.
Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones
A school assignment turns deadly!
Best friends, Cam and Blair, are making a podcast about the twenty-year-old cold case of Clarissa Campbell, who’s been missing since the night of a senior graduation party in the local woods of Oreville, Washington in 1999. Clarissa was a popular cheerleader dating a popular football player and her life seemed perfect to outsiders. Mr. Park, journalism teacher, has assigned a project to his students and that’s why Cam came up with the cold case podcast idea. Blair and Cam are dealing with their own personal struggles but become devoted to figuring out Clarissa’s story. They soon realize they’re in over their heads and that they’re in danger themselves.
Likes/dislikes: The story is so interesting that I didn’t want to put the book down. Overly political statements are a bit confusing when Cam’s friend Sophie blurts them out. I enjoyed the character development throughout the story.
Mature Content: PG-13 for mention of sexual assault on a high school student by the teacher, off page sex, nondescript brief kissing, underage drinking and underage drinking and driving undescribed.
Language: R for 51 swears and 4 f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 for bloody gunshot wound, and purposely run off the road by another vehicle.
Ethnicity: mixed and includes Black, Mexican American, Korean American, white, and Filipino.
Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger, Illustrated by Sara Kipin
Poison Ivy: Thorns is the story of Pamela’s transition into Poison Ivy. Ivy’s origin story is heartbreaking but shows her perseverance. This graphic novel is vividly illustrated and fun to read. 5 stars!
The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass by Anna Priemaza
Vera loves her family and her three siblings. All of a sudden she only has two siblings and her whole family feels like something is missing. This keeps happening with the people she knows and then doesn’t remember. The mystery is the best part of this book. People are being erased from memories and the only proof is a sad underlying feeling. Vera goes through many theories before the truth is found out. Then, all she has to do is put a stop to it and reverse everything. No problem! ;). Interesting and unique story about how important the people we care about are in our lives, 4 stars!
We Are All So Good At Smiling by Amber McBride
Metaphorically beautiful verse!
Metaphorically beautiful verse!
Two depressed teens, Whimsy and Faerry, meet at a mental hospital and then become neighbors and attend high school together. They’re both suffering from depression and memory loss from when they were young children. They’re not sure what they’re not remembering but it’s bothering both of them to the point of despair. They become friends that want to help each other and understand each other’s problems. They need each other to process the trauma they’ve been through and to help the lost information resurface.
Likes/dislikes: The writing is metaphorical and beautiful. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the story. I like Whimsy and Faerry, the two main characters.
Language: G for no swears and no f-bombs.
Mature Content: PG for suicidal thoughts (nondescriptive) and clinical depression.
Violence: PG for talk of cutting, undescribed.
Ethnicity: The two main characters are black and they attend a predominantly white school.
What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin
Andrea gets in a wreck while driving home after work at 3:00 AM. She’s thinking that she saw someone standing in the road so she swerved and ran into a tree. Her adoptive mother picks her up from the hospital and takes her to their home. Detectives arrive and question her about her brother and show her pictures of mutilated victims from his murder spree. Andrea hasn’t spoken to her brother since he was incarcerated for starting the fire that killed their mother and stepfather fifteen years ago. Her adoptive family happens to be the family of the school bully that terrorized Andrea in middle school before the fatal fire. Andrea leaves and goes to her townhouse for privacy but she can’t help but think about something the detectives said. Her brother is on the loose and knows where she is. Another young woman is murdered and things become more complex. The story alternates between the present and the past, before the house fire and the book written about Eli. Andrea seems to be a bit of an unreliable narrator and it becomes a little difficult to follow the tidbits and figure out the truth of the past and present. The book kept me riveted and I wanted to know how it would end but the ending turned out to be ambivalent. Suspenseful thriller with an unreliable narrator, 4 stars!
Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder
A deadly virus with stomach flu like symptoms but deadlier, ravages the country. This virus makes some people have zombie like tendencies.
One person transforms into a tentacled monster.
Another is a courtesan who has to shoot one of her customers because he’s transformed into a monster in front of her. She becomes educated by eating the brains of doctors and scientists and watches over the monsters.
The last main character becomes a breeding ground for tentacled creatures that will soon occupy Earth.
Weird, creepy, scary, gross, vulgar and in-your-face horror!