Ilana Lopez is a biracial Jewish girl of immigrant parents who want more for her. A stable career, a good man, and a good income.
Ilana dreams of becoming a violinist. And she is talented. But her parents don’t believe she understands how difficult the life of an artist can be. So to teach her that they send her to Prague for the summer to stay with her artist aunt. There she is to study hard for her SAT exam and hopefully learn a lesson.
And she does. She learns about history and music and ghosts and more.
Behind her aunt’s house is an old Jewish cemetery. Overgrown with weeds and left to nature. She is determined to clean the cemetery and while there she meets Benjamin. A boy her own age. Except he is rather dead.
But they talk and while she cleans his grave, he shows her a different side of Prague. One where ghosts live. Everyone is enchanted by her and none so much as the old man Rudolph, who has no shadow, which is odd. He is obsessed with her and her music, even giving her a violin. He then offers to share his magic so she and Benjamin can be together. But Ilana finds out a secret and she is willing to lose this boy she has come to love if it means he can be free.
This is a very different story. A bit of magic, myth, and just a brilliant writing style.
Before anything can we talk about the stunning cover art on this book? I have to admit this was one time I judged a book by its cover and it was great!
This is a Fantasy/YA/LGBT and much more. I went in knowing nothing and I figured out a lot very quickly.
The book focuses on twins Rhea and her brother Lexos. They have a brother and a sister, all with special gifts. The twins have spent lifetimes serving their father and their house. They control the seasons, the tides, the skies all while trying to keep their unstable father happy.
Every season Rhea must choose a consort that will die with that season. It’s unimaginable. All the different factions are looking to unseat them and take their land and their powers. Until Rhea chooses an unlikely consort and discovers all of the lies she has been fed her entire life. While her brother is off trying to doublecross the other factions, she is returning to open the gates for war. But who will she end up at war with?
This was a beautiful story I thought. The characters were so well done that even the bad ones were interesting.
You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.
Are you ready?
And this sets the stage for a YA thriller/gamer story.
Crystal is not just a gamer. She is obsessed with the game Mortal Dusk and is gearing up for the biggest game of her life. With millions in prize money, she and her friends will compete against each other for spots. Getting in game time is the only thing that matters to these kids.
When a message comes across her phone telling her that her sister is tied up and will die if she doesn’t agree to play a game. Some of it was just dares. Steal a test, bake some brownies, things that seem random and a bit bizarre. But the video of her sister is so real, she can’t stop.
When she realizes her actions are killing her friends, she has to question why this is happening. Is it another gamer trying to eliminate her team? Or is something much worse at play?
This was a YA book and I do not normally read that genre. There were twists and turns and even I wasn’t ready for that ending!
While this draws on a few real characters in history, make no mistake, it is a Sci-Fy, Fantasy, Futuristic tale that touches on the place women still have in society. Second. Disposable.
And then it just dives right in to giant fighting machines called Chrysalises, transforming robots that battle with mecha aliens that have almost destroyed everything. The pilots are boys. The girls or concubine pilots give of their life force and no one seems to care that they lose their lives.
Except 18 -year-old Zetian. She has plans of revenge after her sister died during one of these fights. She doesn’t use normal weapons. She takes on her pilot with her mind and is the only one returning. With a nickname. Iron Widow.
She has turned the tables on the boys and will now use them as ‘fuel’. They are afraid of her and what she can do. They try pairing her with the strongest male pilot in Huaxia. But Zetian has tasted the power and she likes it. Now her mission is to find out why only girls are being used and disposed of.
She is one of the strongest characters I have seen. She has had enough and is not taking it anymore. This is not my usual genre but I am very glad I read it. I felt empowered and ready to fight.
Meet Penelope Prado who works like crazy at her father’s restaurant. Nacho’s Tacos. It’s a mix between a bar and a great Mexican food place. The entire family works insane hours to support themselves and a lot of people in the community.
Her parents don’t want that life for her. They want her to be a nurse or something stable. So she enrolls in college and pretends to go. Because Pen has her own plans. To take over the restaurant and make it more. Specifically a bakery. She already is known for her food and especially her baking. She adds that secret ingredient only people who love baking can add. Love.
Pen has had demons in her past that have left her feeling unsure of herself and what she controls. When she finally works up the nerve to tell her parents that she hasn’t actually been going to classes. Not once. Because she wants to have the restaurant that her brother is managing.
Pen’s parents are not happy and she doesn’t get the restaurant and she doesn’t get to keep her job. She’s on her own.
Xander came to this country at nine years old. His mother left, his father left and all he has is his grandfather. And fear. Lots of fear. He is undocumented and lives in the shadows, constantly afraid someone will find out.
When he comes to work at the restaurant, he and Pen are instantly interested in each other. They share their deepest secrets and fears. Together they just may be able to save themselves and a lot of other people they love.
This is a YA book and I cried and was saddened by the treatment of immigrants in this story. It’s all true. We see it everyday on the news. This was a beautiful and timely book that I enjoyed very much.
The Lordes Taketh, Stealing Greenwich, a new series in the YA genre.
Frankie Lorde has a great dad. She loves him and he loves her. They are a team. A team of jewel thieves to be precise.
Learning from her dad has given her a skill set not every girl has. Like lock picking and spotting the cops or stealing valuable cars and jewels. But every thing eventually must end and this ends with daddy in prison and Frankie sent to live with her uncle. The Cop. Now she has to learn a new set of life-skills. How to fit in at middle school, how to act her age.
She is also living in the affluent town of Greenwich, which for her is like living in a candy store. She still sees the chasm between the haves and the have-nots and that gives her an idea… but will it be a good idea or a bad one?
This is the first in a new series that I know my 6th grader loved. Frankie is a cool character and we liked her a lot.
Climate Change meets Climate Witches in this Contemporary Fantasy/Paranormal Young Adult debut novel.
Witches have been maintaining the climate for a very long time. Their powers are the powers of the seasons. With the sun peaking in the season they are born.
But the humans or shaders have gotten greedy and off-track wanting more of everything without a thought as to how to it will affect the planet or the weather. They aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. Now the witches control over the weather is getting spotty. Witches are being depleted just trying to hold things together while the weather is acting like an out of control toddler.
But there may be hope. Clara is an Everwitch, she is rare and encompasses all of the seasons. But in Autumn Clara wants nothing more than to lose her magic. The power she has is out-of-control. She has already hurt people she loved. She just wants it gone so no one will be hurt. But the weather is hurting everyone.
When Winter comes and the world is raging as disaster after disaster kills more witches Clara finally understands that only she holds the power and answers that may save them all. But first, she needs to get control of her emotions and her magic.
Sang, is helping her with that. Big problem. He’s hot. She’s hot. He’s training her and he has a strangely calming effect on her magic. But will that keep him safe if she loses control?
And when Summer comes she will have to choose between her powers and love. Her responsibility to her fellow witches and her own personal happiness.
First, I don’t read YA. So much angst. Not so for this book. I could have kept on reading if only the author hadn’t stopped writing. I loved Clara. A strong female lead and strong female characters. I adored every person in this book. I look forward to the next one.
June 1st, 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire/ NetGalley Review
Elm Hollow Academy is an all-girls school in a boring town by the coast with a rather dark past. Witch trials in the 17th century and one supposedly hung from a tree on campus. Theories abound about the school and the odd things that happen there.
Violet is sixteen and has already had her fair share of tragedy and loss. She is that character on the fringe. Even she isn’t sure she belongs here. Or anywhere.
The talk of the school when Violet arrives is the mysterious disappearance of Emily Frost. Said disappearance means there is an opening in a study group with their instructor, Annabelle. Mysterious Annabelle. She teaches the girls about the Furies and how they took revenge on the men who wronged them.
Only these girls aren’t taking notes, they are taking action and Violet is drawn into something deadly and it could get her killed. Not knowing who to trust, she trusts herself.
There are plenty of books dealing with angst-ridden teenaged girls at schools. This had less to do with popularity and boys and more to do with witchcraft.
It was really wordy and the middle got a bit old quickly. The end was unexpected and rather disappointing I thought.
NetGalley/ October 8th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
After decades in hiding, a group of outcasts with extraordinary abilities clashes with a world that is threatened by their power.
Great world-building in this tale! It has rather an X-Men feel to it. These are ordinary people that you wouldn’t look twice at. Nobodies. And yet not quite as ordinary as they seem.
They all have abilities. Emmeline was one of my favorites! Fahima was another. Ordinary people with extraordinary gifts. And with those gifts come the people who would use them or destroy them.
This time they will come together to fight the bigots, the small-minded, and the ones who fear what they can not understand. One of them tries to hold on to a shaky sort of peace while the others are ready to stand up and fight.
I see there will be a second in this Fantasy/Science Fiction book. The kids were really interesting and I’m sure this will be a hit with young adults!