Sixteen-year-old Alka tricks a group of thieves into stopping a wagon for her. They think the wagon holds treasure but it holds a Wizard that is the senator’s powerful daughter. Alka wants revenge on the Wizards for killing her parents ten years ago and Lady Alayne is the key. After dueling with Alayne, Alka retrieves Alayne’s invitation to Blackwater Academy of Magic so she can go in her place and infiltrate the Wizard power. The next chapter explains what happened to Alka’s parents. Wizards arrive at their home so seven-year-old Alka and her six-year-old sister Sera hide under the floorboards like their parents told them to. Their father, Petyr, admits he’s a rebel to save his wife but the Enforcers kill them both. But before Petyr dies, he tells his daughters to run and then he sets off an explosion to kill the Wizards. Alka’s childhood ended that day. Her world completely changed. Now, she travels to Blackwater Academy to take Alayne’s place and exact her revenge. Fylmonela Potts befriends Alka and the two form an alliance preparing for the intense competitive Blackwater Academy where one third of the students will drop out or die instead of graduating. At the opening ceremony, Alka sees the man who killed her parents, Magnus Aberdeen, headmaster of Blackwater Academy. After a failed attempt to get close to Aberdeen, Alka meets the exchange student Prince Talyn Ravensgale IV. The story continues to alternate between young Alka and the present Alka, when she’s at Blackwater. She pretends to mess up a Glyph that distracts Aberdeen and the entire class so she can steal the last four Glyph pages from the master codex of the wizard spells to keep and learn on her own. She wants to be the most powerful so she can take down the wizards. When she was being trained by rebels, she was told not to feel remorse for killing wizards or others who stand in the way of her mission. Despite that, Alka gains allies and friends and when their order competes in a school challenge, they try a daring stunt to beat the competition. This makes the ruling order angry but the rest of the school feels empowered. The second challenge doesn’t go down as planned and when a friend dies, Alka knows the end is coming. She’s got to make a plan that will take the biggest toll of all. 4 stars for the writing and the intensity. Similar to a Harry Potter outline.
I begin reading with an open mind and a few pages in there’s a comment about people knowing the narrator is gay because of piercings and colorful tattoos. I don’t believe that everyone that fits in that category is gay; that’s just stereotypical annoyance. The book has more new adult than young adult content since the characters are college age, and content contains sexual innuendos and swearing. I actually grew to enjoy the variety of characters and appreciate the topics that the author approached tastefully. Mental and physical health, drugs, overdoses and the universal question of what to do with your life are brought up and dealt with well. I do worry about STDs and the nonchalant sex life of Ivy. I wish something about protection during sexual activity was mentioned, especially since the main character’s mother is a nurse. I enjoyed the story and couldn’t put it down after a while. Interesting with food for thought, 4 stars!
Reverie by Ryan La Sala
This fun fantasy adventure has a variety of characters set in different worlds or “reveries”. The story opens as Kane struggles with memory loss and frustration because he’s been accused of reckless behavior, destruction of property and possibly murder but he doesn’t remember any of it. He digs deeper into solving the mystery of his life and discovers that he was part of a group called “Others”. The more he reveals, the crazier everything gets. Dreams from individual minds come to life and most people are swept into the reverie while the Others have special powers of illusion, strength and cleverness to guide people safely through the dream world. The story also has a drag queen reverie guide that adds flair as well as lesbian side characters and Kane, who is the gay main character. These characters add perspective, kindness, diversity and a broad array of personalities to Reverie. A fun adventure fantasy geared towards young adults. The relationship scenes aren’t detailed and are a small part of the Reverie world. 4 stars!
More than what I expected!
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski tells the story of Nirrim, an orphan that lives with other women that don’t have anywhere else to go. They all live under the care of Raven, who treats them like money-making slaves. Nirrim found and captured a priceless bird and was put in jail where she meets Sid. They talk back and forth but they’re in separate cells and low light, so they can’t see each other clearly. Somehow Sid gets them both released and Nirrim is surprised to find out that Sid is actually a woman when she thought Sid was a man during her stay in jail. Sid is a traveler, which is rare in Nirrim’s kingdom. The two befriend each other with a wary trust. The two travel together until a visitor brings Sid worrisome news and she has to return to her home. Then all Nirrim wants is the truth behind the history of her kingdom. What she discovers is much more than she bargained for. The ending left me speechless and was so much bigger than I expected it to be! Different types of abuse and manipulation are touched on as parts of Nirrim’s life. I appreciate the author addressing these issues and helping readers understand the perspective of the abused and used. A complex world with complicated characters, 5 stars!
Tough situations handled well by author!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Margaret K. McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith!
First we meet Chris, who’s changed identities. Next is Maia who has lost her sister Mallory. Both main characters feel lost and, while Chris is struggling with the transformation of being transgender, Maia is trying to figure out the basics of who she is without her sister. The two of them work through some of their struggles together but Maia seems to be having a more difficult time adjusting personally than Chris. Transgenderism is handled perfectly from all perspectives, personal, family, friends and romantic relationships. Being transgender would be difficult enough as it is, but adding a relationship would make everything even more complicated. How and when do you tell your romantic interest or even just a new friend? They have a right to know, so their feelings are respected too. The author approaches these issues gently and respectfully for all sides involved. Losing a loved one is also part of this book and that’s something that all of us will have to deal with at sometime in our lives. These tough situations are handled well by the author, who also shares her own experiences with sexuality. I wish the cover was better though; I can see it being a deterrent for readers. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Ready For It by Chusita Fashion Fever.
Bluntly honest and informative in all things about sex, from bodies to relationships. Advice and mature content from the author who also has a YouTube channel that deals with sex and all the taboos that go along with it. *Friendly warning: graphic illustrations and information, 4 stars!
Truly original fantasy!
I read When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore as a buddy-read event for Dragons & Tea Book Club. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for the opportunity to read and review this book by providing the ARC!
This is a unique story that pulls from deep-seated cultural roots and a little deception. Sam and Miel share trust, loyalty and a special relationship. They also share their community with a group of sisters that could be considered mean girls, with a power they’ve grown so used to, that they do not want to lose it and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Wow! Aracely’s background revelation was something I was not expecting! Sam struggles with the decision of who (what gender) he wants to be in the near future. He’s struggling to the point of desperation. Miel blames herself for the loss of her mother and brother. She thinks the river might give them back to her. The fantastical elements are kind of difficult to understand in this story but I do enjoy the flow of the author’s writing. As usually is the case, the author’s notes are enlightening! They are also helpful in understanding Miel’s fears and Sam’s struggles. I appreciate that Anna-Marie McLemore shares such personal experiences and revelations with her readers! 4 stars for this unique fantasy!
Time travel adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds!
Elias lives with his family in London during the 1800’s and he feels like a constant disappointment to his family. His grandfather shares a secret with Elias because he sees how unhappy he is. The secret is a pocket watch that lets the holder travel through time. Elias accidentally ends up in America in the present time, surprising Tyler while he’s in the school library. Tyler accidentally films everything, as he’s aspiring to become a famous filmmaker. He captures the arrival of Elias, including the small earthquakes that occurred in the library, startling Tyler. The boys become fast friends and Tyler guides Elias around the school and New York City, teaching him current slang and explaining the different inventions Elias has never seen before. The culture and technology differences are entertaining and the story is interesting but light at the same time. 4 stars for a fun, cute read!
Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!