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 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.
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.
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!
The Island by Natasha Preston
A deceptive invitation!
Teen influencers arrive on an island after being invited for a fun-filled weekend to post online reviews and build excitement for the upcoming opening. The island is an amusement park and resort all in one. The six influencers have a variety of online posts and followers. Before they can enjoy much of the island, the killing starts. One by one, people are being chased and killed. Those who remain must work together to outsmart the killer and survive until help arrives.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the premise of inviting influencers to review and build hype about a new place. The mystery was fun and suspenseful. I liked learning about each character’s background.
Language: R for 121 swears, no f-bombs.
Mature Content: none other than the violence.
Violence: R for bloody deaths.
A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy by Jeff Bishop
Quirks, romance, and high school antics alongside heartbreak and tragedy!
Cam is still devastated and heartbroken from Allison (Ally) breaking up with him months ago. Now he’s worried she won’t come out of the coma that was the result of a car accident she was in. He’s been injured during sports so he’s out of commission and is prescribed medication for the pain. He starts his pain meds and soon sees Ally. She talks to him. He thinks he must be hallucinating. The conversations began to occur frequently and Ally becomes more real and can physically move things. Cameron’s personality and sense of humor made me laugh. He’s endearing and learns a lot about himself through his hallucinatory conversations with Ally. I enjoyed reading this young adult realistic fiction story full of quirks, romance, and high school antics that also deals with more serious issues like heartbreak and tragedy, 5 stars!
The Do-Over by Lynn Painter
Em wakes up on Valentine’s Day excited to celebrate with her boyfriend Josh. Her day goes horribly in so many ways that she’s relieved to have it end but she wakes up the next morning and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. This happens several times and she finally decides to not care about anything and has a great day doing whatever she feels like. She pulls her chemistry lab partner along for the day and they have such a great time that she doesn’t want this Valentine’s Day to end. When she wakes up the next morning expecting to have to relive another Valentine’s Day, she has a lot of repercussions to deal with! 5 stars for a thoroughly entertaining story!
The Headmaster’s List by Melissa de la Cruz
Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance!
Spencer wakes up in the hospital after being injured in a car crash that involved her and three other students from Armstrong but she only remembers a few details. One of the students, Chris, died in the crash and another passenger, Tabby, won’t talk to Spencer but only glares at her. Ethan was driving and speeding and says he tried to brake but the car wouldn’t stop and they hit a tree. Ethan is on house arrest, Tabby seems fine but angry, Chris died and Spencer has broken some bones and has stitches from her jaw to her cheekbone. Jackson, Ethan’s best friend, helps Spencer get around and with her schoolwork, as well as helping her piece the details from the night of the accident together because she’s extremely frustrated that she can’t remember. The more she digs into the details, the more in danger she becomes.
Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I like the intense, poetic opening that reveals the story. I like Spencer’s strength and integrity and Jackson’s personality. I enjoyed figuring out the mystery and how a mental health therapy dog helped a trauma victim.
Matue content: PG-13 for prescription drug addiction, drinking, vaping
Language: PG-13 for 24 swears and 5 f-bombs
Violence: PG for brakes being cut to cause an accident, hit and run, being held at gunpoint and being hit in the head with a gun.