17yo Josslyn lost her father, the Prime Minister, to an assassin a year ago during the Queen’s Gala. She’s attending the current Gala to support Celina, her best friend and the first daughter of the present Prime Minister, and to help Celina gain confidence. While at the Gala, Josslyn wanders to the art treasures display and accidentally absorbs magic when an artifact opens during the robbery she walked into. The robber, Jericho, knows the magic will cause swift action and punishment for Josslyn if the Queen finds out because she has completely banned all magic, so the two of them run and end up in the Queens prison after they search for help in removing the unwanted magic and discover they have something in common: the same assassin that killed Josslyn’s father, Lord Banyon, also killed Jericho’s parents. The magic Josslyn absorbed shows her Lord Banyon’s memories from sixteen years ago when he was being tortured and she continues to have these memories in full force, showing her a side of Lord Banyon that isn’t cruel at all. Lazos is the prison overlord and also a warlock who used to be the queen’s magic advisor, so Josslyn and Jericho ask him to get rid of the unwanted magic, but he strikes a deal first; Jericho must kill the beast in the prison before Lazos will help them. When the beast is discovered, many more secrets are revealed and the danger has just begun.
Likes/dislikes: This book is such a fun read! I enjoyed the humor and sarcasm. There’s plenty of action. The story is entertaining almost immediately and I loved the twists. Mature Content: PG-13 for brief, passionate kissing and underage drinking. Language: R for 115 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody kicking, bloody shooting and bloody death. Ethnicity: Josslyn is white, the queen is white, Overlord is olive skinned, and all shapes, sizes and skintones are at the Fight Club.
Sal 17, lives in Juniper, California with his sick mother and alcoholic father. Sal attends school while trying to help keep the family hotel afloat. Sal and Noor, 18, were best friends until they had a fight months ago and haven’t spoken since. Sal’s mom collapses and needs to be taken to the hospital while Noor happens to be visiting her. Sal’s mother passes away and her last words to Noor were to forgive. Sal and Noor try to mend their friendship but they’re both keeping secrets and trying to persevere through their own harsh situations. When life implodes, they both have to make some tough choices.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Pakistani culture and its languages. The author gives a comprehensive, concise content warning at the beginning of the book and lists resources at the end for help with domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, immigration and refugee rights, children’s defense fund, and women of color. I appreciate how the author portrayed harsh realities to readers in a way that is educational and with empathy but not graphic. This book is a must read. Language: R for 147 swears and 3 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for brief undescribed kiss, drug dealer selling pills, mention of marijuana (weed), deeper kiss. Violence: PG-13 for child abuse (a push against the wall), bloody face from abuse, kicking ribs, mentions of repressed sexual assault, continued abuse. Ethnicity: Sal and Noor and their family members are Pakistani living in a predominantly white community. There is a Pakistani religious leader and his wife is Black. The Judge is Mexican American and the story contains mixed ethnicity police officers.
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.