Reviews


REVIEW BY Merissa   

Nobody's Goddess

- rating
- story
- characters

"Nobody's Goddess"

Noll lives in a small village, under the shadow of the lord's castle. The men supply the castle with the things he needs as no woman or girl is allowed to look upon the castle, or they turn to dust. When the boys reach a certain age, they fall in love with a girl/woman who is their "goddess".

This book is incredibly in-depth and intricate. It has layer upon layer of story woven within its pages, and it will draw you in and keep you there until the story is over. There are lots of unique and fresh ideas within this book, so much so that I can't describe them all without doing the book a grave injustice.

There is romance in this story, but I felt it actually took a back seat. It is more about Noll learning who she is, situations she has to live through to become who she needs to be. I was swept along right to the end, when my heart stuttered as I realised, along with Noll, just what was going on. Trust me when I say that I had to reread the ending more than once before I could convince myself to close the book.

An excellent story, very well-written and with no editing or grammatical errors to detract away from the story, this is one Coming of Age Fantasy to be read and enjoyed more than once. Definitely recommended.

REVIEW BY JJ Smit   

Pisces

- rating
- story
- characters

"Fast paced and filled with intrigue"

PISCES by Rachel Medhurst was really an enjoyable read and a good start to what might be a great series. It’s fast paced, full of suspense and intrigue which is exactly what one looks for in a YA novel.

Pisces is your typical lost girl in search of her twin flame. She doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of her brothers and sisters (who are all named after the Zodiac signs, which I think is really awesome) and all she wants is a normal life and to find the one she is destined to be with. Part of the Zodiacs' mission is to find their twin flame soul mates in order to bring back love and hope to the world. Naturally there are bad guys who would do anything to stop this from happening, and this adds just that little touch of suspense to the novel, which is great.

What I did struggle with a little was relating to Pisces. She seemed like a real hot/cold person. The one minute she wants to be comforted, and the next she doesn’t. I couldn’t figure her out at all and I just wish the author gave us a little more insight into who Pisces really is, what makes her tick. I also didn’t like the part of the storyline where the twin flames ended up running away from each other. I found the push and pull throughout real annoying, and I kept on thinking how much I want to slap her and her twin flame over the head. (I can’t give her twin flame’s name since I don’t want to spoil it for the readers) Since they were soul mates, one would think that they wouldn't be able to keep their hands off each other, but no, these two end up running away from each other all the time.

The rest of the characters are great – especially Aries. The author did an excellent job in setting the foundation for his story and I can’t wait to get my hands on that novel. The Zodiacs were by far the most interesting part of the novel for me, and their characters were extremely well developed.

Overall, PISCES was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who loves their novels fast paced with not too much descriptive details. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

REVIEW BY Michelle Pennington   

HIDDEN

- rating
- story
- characters

"White knuckle joy ride."

This book was a bit like a really good hay ride through a haunted forest. Some parts of the ride were slow, and you just have to wait for the action to get going. You know that you're heading somewhere cool though, so you tell yourself to be patient. Then all of a sudden, you're plunging into complete terror. I was asking myself, why in the world am I reading this right before bed? The adrenaline was definitely pumping in places. Then slow and gentle again. Then a headlong rush into "no no no no no" land again. Repeat.

While parts of the story dragged for me, I enjoyed the attention to detail and dual time settings. The characters were flawed and interesting, and I always enjoy a story set in England. There's definitely some insta-attraction going on here, if not insta-love, but it's understandable in the scope of the story and the characters have ample time to develop a real relationship, so it was good. As this is the first book in a series, I was happy to get a satisfying conclusion with enough left open to bring me back for more.







REVIEW BY Ashia   

The Fine Art of Pretending

by Rachel Harris
- rating
- story
- characters

"Shouldn't miss this!"

THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING gives me all the feels! Because the characters are in their senior year, the language and words used by the author and concepts tackled are more...mature, so to speak, including scenes describing the characters making out. So, maybe younger readers shouldn't pick this up just yet.

Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal to shed her tomboy image and make herself more appealing and date-able. Her goal is to score a date with playboy Justin Carter to Homecoming, and for that, she needs the help of best friend Brandon Taylor to play her boyfriend. It was supposed to be only pretend, but when feelings get all too real, will anything be left of their friendship?

I like both Aly and Brandon, and Aly's and Brandon's friends are a hoot, especially Gabi, who has her own side romance. The progression of Aly and Brandon's relationship is believable, and I was on tenterhooks the entire time. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! I wanted to know what's going to happen to them. I thought the situation between Aly and Justin was handled well, and I like Aly's courage in admitting her feelings to Justin.

If you like YA contemporary romance and friends-to-lovers theme, you shouldn't miss this book! I can't wait for the next book, The Natural History of Us, featuring Justin and Peyton. Peyton only has a small scene in this book, so maybe you should note that while reading.

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

Ice Like Fire

by Sara Raasch
- rating
- story
- characters

"Dynamic characters. A destiny unfolds. Who will win as the pace accelerates and motivations and power are revealed?"

All I can say is I don't ever want to be involved in a game of political cat and mouse with Sara Raasch. Wow... I just finished the book and my head is still spinning with all the plots and counter plots and counter-counter plots that are revealed near the end as the pace nears breakneck speed. As an author it's hard to keep everyone's motivation straight in your head as you write. Raasch masterfully weaves no less than eight plots together simultaneously and manages to keep them coherent and logical. Well, well done.

As with Snow Like Ashes, Raasch again writes beautiful prose. Her descriptions of the world of Primoria as well as her creative metaphors, while certainly not humorous and juvenile like his, remind me of the craft of Rick Riordan. And this is one domain of storytelling that engages or turns me away from a book like nothing else. Perhaps I'm overflowing with praise here because I understand how hard it is to write well--it's an area I'm constantly working on for my own books. Anyone can throw words on a page, but very few can make those words serve art as well as function.

I also have to commend the way the author pursued "the quest" plot which is much of what happens in this book as Meira goes after three keys. So many times that theme gets so old for me after reading so many high fantasy stories that I roll my eyes and groan when I see it pop its head up. But Raasch keeps it as a spine for the novel upon which to hang all the plots and motivations rather than as a central theme where we pick up our walking sticks and strike out on our journey. She makes the destinations so vivid and different that I found myself drawn along without protest.

The theme that emerges in this book is one of Meira now declaring she will try to save not just Winter, but the whole of that world--a rather ambitious goal to be sure. One might call her naive, but this strong, purposeful girl will surely make it happen. That said, I appreciate how the author helps Meira learn and grow through all she faces in this book. She begins to have her naive view of people and the world stripped from her, replaced by experience and new observations of what motivates those around her. This makes her an interesting character who is beginning to anticipate and plan rather than being caught off-guard.

Theron wants everyone to have equal power which is idealistic at its best and essentially socialism at its worst. Meira, on the other hand, seeks the end of magic so everyone can begin at the same place with all their strengths and weaknesses and make a world that is "honest" and "authentic," that will stand the test of time. At the moment this may be a naive goal as power will always exist no matter the situation.

For the first time we also see the story from Mather's point of view which allows the plot to develop regarding what Winter is experiencing at the hands of its "savior" Cerellian. We see him develop as he stops sulking about not being king to accepting his role as not-king and mobilizing a small band of troops to fight.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

I loved the exchange between him and Allyson, his mother, just before she is killed. That discussion after her death certainly spurs him on to aide Meira as he runs toward Ventralia and into danger to protect his love and Queen.

*** END OF SPOILER ***

The character of Ceridwen, Summer's princess, new to this book is an awesome character in her own right. She gives Meira perspective on the situation with her brother, the king of Summer, and allies with Meira in her fight. I loved this brash girl who stands up for what she believes. I'm looking forward to her role in the next book for I'm sure she won't disappoint.

I can't wait to see where Raasch takes us in the third book of the series. I give this 5 stars!

REVIEW BY Michelle Pennington   

Death Wish

- rating
- story
- characters

"Beautiful Journey"

From the first page, I was enraptured by this story. As we meet the main character, Scarlett Blake, she is battling against the depth and power of grief and loss, so well symbolized by her determination to conquer the surging, crashing waves of the ocean. She's a girl on a mission, and as the cute surfer on the beach learns, she's incredibly courageous. With beautiful writing, perfect in pacing and restraint, and real, well-developed characters, the story sweeps you along effortlessly. I fell in love with so many characters in this story - except one. More on that later though.

I love romance, and this book had a scene that was easily one of the most moving scenes I've read in a long time. I will leave it for you to discover, but trust me that it was truly beautiful. Scarlett and Logan's relationship grew at a slower pace which frustrated me a bit a reader, but only because I was impatient. Logan was so patient and strong, the perfect person to help Scarlett on her journey of suffering, discovery, and eventual acceptance. The further the story went, however, the more there seemed to be hidden in the narrative, looming on a dark horizon.

Now, there is only one reason I took off half a star. For me, on a very personal level that may not apply to anyone else, I could have done without the whole paranormal aspect to this book. This is only because everything that I loved most about this story is likely not going to be the same in the next book. And this is where I mention Jude. I never liked him, and I don't know if I was supposed to or not. I do know that I don't like what he means for the rest of the series. But for those who love a long, challenging series, I'm sure this will be all you could ever desire.Regardless, read Death Wish for the masterful writing the incredible experience.




REVIEW BY Merissa   

The Hunter's Moon

- rating
- story
- characters

"The Hunter's Moon"

The Hunter's Moon is a young adult paranormal romance that starts with Morgan and her brother, Jimmy, on the run from mobsters who are trying to kill them. They shouldn't have been found as they are in the Witness Protection Program, but hey, they were. The reasons for this become clear as the book progresses.

This is a smooth flowing book where the seventeen-year-old main female is thrust into the world of the paranormal, not knowing a single thing about it. Her ten-year-old brother is a delight to read about, and certainly deserves the nickname of Batboy. Her doubts and fears about what is to come are completely relevant, and not out of character. The supporting characters are mainly a quiet bunch, with the spotlight on Okema, Miriam and Hawthorne. That being said, this is a series with a whole bunch of potential and I can't wait to read more. Definitely recommended for all fans of YA/Paranormal.

REVIEW BY Ashia   

Sword and Verse

by Kathy MacMillan
- rating
- story
- characters

"Marvelous worldbuilding"

I picked up SWORD AND VERSE as it looks to be a fantasy dystopian romance that I love, but it didn't live up to my expectations. The writing was a little flat; it was hard to get excited about anything.

Raisa became a Tutor-in-training when the previous one was executed for helping the Resistance. In her world, slaves weren't allowed to read and write, and only the king and the prince and the Tutors were allowed to learn the higher-order writing, because this is used to communicate with the gods. I thought the worldbuilding was marvelous, and the concept was certainly different and refreshing from the other books in the genre.

That said, the characters were a bit bland. There was no buildup in the romance of Raisa and Prince Mati, and I'm still puzzled as to what each saw in the other to have these romantic feelings. Especially, I don't know what Mati saw in Raisa; I mean, as a prince, he has access to lots of girls. So what is it about Raisa? And so, when the conflict came in the form of Mati's betrothed, it was hard to care much because I'm not fully invested in the characters.

Overall, it's a great YA fantasy, certainly different and refreshing.

REVIEW BY Ashia   

Six of Crows

by Leigh Bardugo
- rating
- story
- characters

"Captivating!"

I've always loved stories of heists. My first experience with it was If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon. And if there are twists along the way, so much the better. Then of course, there's Ocean's Eleven. SIX OF CROWS is more like Ocean's Eleven, where our ensemble cast of heroes and heroines are to pull off a big heist where, if successful, they would be rewarded with lots of money. But the risk is just as huge, because if they were caught, they would never make it home alive.

The story is told from five different viewpoints in alternating chapters--Kaz, Nina, Inej, Matthias and Jesper. Only Wylan's voice wasn't heard from, and though he's the youngest of the group, he displays surprising courage. I especially like the way he took the initiative and sang a Fjerdan song to distract the guards at some risk to himself in order to help Jesper, especially after being teased mercilessly by Jesper on numerous occasions for his "green-ness" in criminal ways.

The five different viewpoints is necessary as they were separated at times due to the different jobs they have to do at several points during the heist. And it worked for me, as it gives me a chance to get to know the different characters. Slipping in their backstory at various points avoids info dumping and also serves the purpose of making readers understand just what it is that drives each one of them. It's hard at times to believe these characters are seventeen or eighteen--they seem so old, so mature--but I guess in their world, you really do have to grow up fast.

The characters were wonderfully three-dimensional and exhibited growth over the course of the book. Just when you thought you knew all about them and how their story is going to go, they surprise you with a revelation or some realization. Inej has a Suli proverb she mentions: “The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.” And halfway through the book, as she was scaling up a chimney, she realized what her heart's purpose would be, and this provided her with a goal for what her life after the heist would be. I think it's also very applicable to us.

The worldbuilding is incredible. It's vividly described and detailed, and it's easy to imagine myself in the Barrels or at the Ice Court. It makes you feel as though you are right there scaling the heights with Inej or sneaking into the Ice Court with them. And don't get me started on the grisha. Where fantasy stories about elementals abound in the market and have become rather tiring, Ms. Bardugo was able to put a fresh spin on it, making it new and interesting.

SIX OF CROWS is a fantastic, page-turning spinoff from the author's popular Grisha Trilogy. It is astounding and captivating, and the unforgettable characters and high stakes adventure will keep readers riveted to the pages for hours on end. I hadn't read the Grisha Trilogy before diving into SIX OF CROWS and I'm happy to report that it didn't mar my enjoyment and understanding of the story at all. That said, I'm going to amend this oversight while waiting for the sequel to SIX OF CROWS. Can't wait!

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

The Master Magician

by Charlie N. Holmberg
- rating
- story
- characters

"Let your expectations go and just enjoy this whimsical, imaginative, and sweet story."

What a great ending to this very creative story arc. While Ceony again falls into a very predictable trap based on her naivety (which you can see coming a mile away) I enjoyed the sweet romantic tension that the author took time to develop rather than the all-too-common hormonal lust/sex that fills many books these days. I loved the outcome of the adventure and especially the very end of the book including the epilogue. Well done!

If you enjoyed this review, I invite you to read more YA Fantasy reviews on my blog at http://blog.lrwlee.com

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

The Paper Magician

by Charlie N. Holmberg
- rating
- story
- characters

"If you love origami and magic, The Paper Magician is definitely for you! "

This was a good adventure to start a series. A coming-of-age plot has us begin with disappointment which we can all relate to followed immediately by discovery that disproves our ungrounded, and preconceived notions, to introduce a world of possibilities. The author certainly has a vivid imagination–not only does she go deep in inventing a whole world of magic possible with paper folding, but also having a good portion of this book take place within the heart of Magician Emery Thane. What a great way to weave in backstory to set up the rest of the books. Very ingenious and instructive. I’m looking forward to book 2.

If you enjoyed this review, I invite you to read more YA Fantasy reviews on my blog at http://blog.lrwlee.com

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

The White Rose

by Amy Ewing
- rating
- story
- characters

"Suspense-filled. Unique World. Engaging heroine. "

If you loved Rosamund Hodge’s Crimson Bound, you’ll love The White Rose (Jewel series Book Two) by Amy Ewing!

I thoroughly enjoyed Ewing’s first book, The Jewel, which is why I preordered The White Rose as soon as I finished it. That said, this book lived up to my expectations and then some.

The world of the Jewel expands dramatically in this installment for Violet, Ash and Raven are on the run and must navigate the four rings in order to find safety in the outermost, The Farm. Page-turning suspense built as they continually had to overcome obstacles to a safe passage through each ring. While book one gave a glimpse of the rings, book two gives more depth and richness (or impoverishedness as the case is) of each as Violet and her companions navigate each. We come to appreciate, all the more, the unfairness thrust upon all who exist to serve the needs of The Jewel. We also come to learn that this world is actually an island that has been abused for centuries–we learn it seeks to restore itself to harmony and balance and will assist all who work to that end. How this manifests is a very imaginative take on the world that is well done and believable.

Violet also grows in Book Two. We knew she had strength as a surrogate, but together reader and character begin to understand more about that strength as she attempts numerous quests to save friends, endure the unknown, and even help those she loves realize their deepest needs even when it seems foolhearty. One such example is when Ash must see his little sister who is dying. Ewing stacks the situation with everything you, as the omnicient reader, know is crazy to even attempt the effort, but she uses it to reveal more of both Violet’s and Ash’s characters.

As an author, I always have a character’s name represent their role or give some hint about what we can expect from him/her. Ewing clearly utilizes this tool as we see Lucien live up to his name, which means bright light or leader, as we find he is the leader of the black key resistance that is giving inhabitants of every ring of the Jewel hope for a different future.

The one very minor issue I had was with the character of Garnet, the son of the Duchess of the Lake. Somehow he just always shows up at just the right moment to save the day. The thought kept running through my mind, wouldn’t the Duchess know if he stayed out all night, etc? He seemed too convenient at times. But as I said, that was a very minor issue and based upon Garnet’s minor supporting role for now, it’s not a big deal. I will enjoy seeing how he develops in Book Three.

The book is clearly the middle of a series as throughout, the next installment is set up. We see this as three new surrogates join the cast and questions are planted re: how they will behave relative to the mission–will they help or hinder the cause, Violet’s sister, Hazel, is taken to be a surrogate, and Violet finds her little brother has joined the resistance. It is clear Violent has much to lose and much to gain as we move forward.

I know I’ve discovered a great book when I find myself genuinely worried about what happens to the characters. This was one such book! Well done. I’m giving it 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, I invite you to read more YA Fantasy reviews at my blog at http://blog.lrwlee.com

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

Endure

by Sara B. Larson
- rating
- story
- characters

"Friendship. Conflict. Love’s Triumph. "

Wow. A lot happened in this final book of the series. We start at the problem of how to defeat Rafe, an evil sorcerer, who controls Rylan’s mind while holding him prisoner to get to Alexa, and Damian begging Alexa to never leave him again. We end at peace and happily ever after with the world safe from evil and a new dawn for Antion and the neighboring nations.

While I understand why Larson has Damian act as he does at the beginning, it felt like he became juvenile and lacking the dignity his role demands. I hate whiny kings and he became one. Like I said, I understand why and it worked out in the end, but still…

It came as no surprise that Alexa decides, against Damian’s wishes to go rescue Rylan. As a reader I knew the plot would go that way…it was too obvious. So then it became only a question of how the resulting conflict would go down.

I was left wondering, if I had been Damian, how would I have felt when the woman I love goes off and tries to free her friend. I guess that’s what a true friend does…but the author basically trades Eljin’s life for Rylan’s with her struggling for survival.

I thought the wrap up was only “okay”, as we never hear about most of the other characters like Ajax and Lisbet ever again other than brief mentions.

Overall, I like this book for it was a fitting conclusion to the series, but I liked it less than book two, based upon the seemingly overused plot line and lack of satisfying wrap up. I give this 4 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, check out other YA Fantasy reviews at my blog at blog.lrwlee.com

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

Ignite

by Sara B. Larson
- rating
- story
- characters

"Action. Vulnerability. Suspense."

Larson expands what she began in book one in this engaging tale. Prince Damian is as charming and beautiful as ever and the love triangle with Rylan gets no easier for Alexa. She vascilates between the two men she loves, knowing Rylan is the “sensible” choice for her husband for she is “just” a member of the king’s guard without privilege or honor as befitting the queen of a nation. Yet her heart knows better…

Meanwhile, a band of strange sorcerers visits Antion–sorcerers undetectible by Damian–and begin a campaign to overwhelm the monarchy and citizens, with mind control. Larson did a good job of painting a very bleak situation that I couldn’t easily see how it would resolve. And what’s more, she put the characters through their paces and did not make it resolve easily (good job)! I hate books where an author backs the characters into a corner, then makes the conflict resolve so easily as to make it annoying. Larson did not commit that sin :)

In fact, I LOVED how the author used the climax of the central conflict to force Alexa to at last confess her deep, deep love of Damian, getting her logic out of the way and laying bare, in a very vulnerable way, her heart for the man. I still remember the scene…Damian asks, “Did you mean what you said?” and Alexa confesses, “Yes.” Oh, be still my heart…

One thing I still don’t understand…why was Alexa chosen? And why does a nation want her so badly that they send a sorcerer to apprehend her? I guess this is to be explored in the next book in the series…hope…hope.

Which brings me to my one complaint. Larson leaves you hanging at the end. So much is left open and while I understand she wants us to buy the next book to see how it all works out, I felt dissatisfied and empty at how she left us after such a gripping rollercoaster ride. Nonetheless, I plan to read the next installment :)

Overall, I give Ignite 4.5 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, see more YA Fantasy reviews on my blog at http://blog.lrwlee.com/

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

Defy

by Sara B. Larson
- rating
- story
- characters

"Romance. Mystery. Twists."

I will say up front I’m a sucker for a messy love story set against a fantasy world. I enjoy love sprouting in a barren wasteland, or though the cracks in the sidewalk where it’s impossible for it to thrive, but it does–it persists and refuses to give up. You kinda have to be this way to fully enjoy this book because a love triangle is a central theme throughout. If you despise this type of conflict, this book is probably not for you.

The book starts with an intriguing premise–there are breeding houses established by the maniacal king to produce warriors to support his long-term and unending war efforts. They are painted in sufficient depth as to create revulsion and disgust and set up a central part of the conflict, namely that Alexa Holden masquerades as a boy (aided by her twin brother) to avoid said houses and their abuse.

Of course Alexa can’t just be an ordinary “boy”…that would never do in a fantasy story. She discovers she has traces of a gift for sword-fighting passed down from her father who we find out was a sorcerer, in a land where sorcerery is frowned upon and made to be a crime punishable by death.

I liked the setting Larson situated the book in, a jungle, which added creepy crawlies and jaguars that aren’t in most YA fantasy. It was a nice change.

A few issues I had with the plot: We never understand why King Hector, the maniacal monarch, is the way he is. We also don’t understand why he is at war. He trumped up a bogus reason to get the people to fight against a neighboring kingdom, but we never understand why. We also don’t come to understand why certain people are sorcerers. What’s the background narrative about how sorcerers came to be in the land. We also never understand how so many folks knew Alexa was a girl masquerading as a boy. Perhaps that is yet to come in book two, but it’s certainly a question.

One other thing, Larson needs to expand her repetoire of ways to describe a character’s “inscrutible” look. She mixed in a few but way too many “inscrutible”s for my liking.

Overall, I enjoyed the read and give it 4 stars. I’m curious to see what book 2 has in store.

If you enjoyed this review, check out other YA Fantasy reviews at my blog at blog.lrwlee.com

REVIEW BY L. R. W. Lee   

Snow Like Ashes

by Sara Raasch
- rating
- story
- characters

"How Do You Always Remain “Yourself”, No Matter the Situation?"

I loved Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch! From the well-constructed prose to the riveting storyline to the examination of how to always remain “yourself”, no matter the situation.

I must begin my critique with the world Raasch built. At the beginning there seemed to be so many kingdoms that it felt overwhelming, but the author sorted out how they came to be. While this first book fleshed out only three of them, I presume Raasch will bring the others in to play in defeating the major conflict as we move into book two.

Another thing I love about this book is where the story picks up…not with defeat looming, not with an enemy attacking, but completely and utterly defeated with only impossible hope spurring on the Winterians. And after hopes have been dashed so many times, few dare to hope again. How many world’s have been built thusly? Not many that I can remember. I love the author daring to rise up, daring to consider the possibility, daring to hope again…awesome…

Raasch also did a masterful job of unveiling a major plot twist three quarters of the way through that made so much sense but took me completely by surprise. I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy and it takes a lot to “pull one over on me” but she did it and thrilled me. Well done.

The main heroine, Meira, is a believable 16-year-old complete down to her impulsiveness and lack of confidence. I admire that she loves her country so much that she is willing to act for what she believes even if it means her own life is forfeit. That commitment makes her someone I could support and root for. The other theme I appreciated for Meira is her wrestling with how she can remain true to herself when those in authority over her dictate so much of her life. I enjoyed her search for answers that work for her. How true that is for each of us…we must seek to always be ourselves despite peer pressure or those in authority over us.

As for a budding love triangle, we definitely have one between Mather and Theron, but I appreciate how Raasch constructed it…not whiny, but testosterone driven guys who will clearly come to blows at some point. Personally, I’m rooting for Theron as he seems deeper and able to appreciate more deeply. Will that relationship be possible though? Hard to say.

If you enjoyed this review, check out other YA Fantasy reviews at my blog at blog.lrwlee.com

REVIEW BY Silver   

The Fill-In Boyfriend

by Kasie West
- rating
- story
- characters

"Well worth the read!"

THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND's tone may be light and fun, but it tackles deep issues about lying and its consequences, and about friendship.

Gia Montgomery got a fill-in boyfriend when her boyfriend broke up with her on prom night. She needed the fill-in boyfriend to prove to her friends that her boyfriend does exist. Or does he? Wow, what a conundrum! Days later, she agreed to be Hayden's (fill-in boyfriend) pretend girlfriend to "protect" him from his ex. There's a lot of lying and pretending going on, and when the truth is out, how will Gia pick herself up from the ashes?

The romance between Gia and Hayden develops at a steady pace and is believable, which includes the resolution of Hayden's past baggage. It is also thrilling as we read and watch these two characters fall for each other. But more than the romance, the story also deals with Gia's friendships with long-time friends Claire and Laney and newcomer-to-their-group Jules, how the pressure of wanting to keep her friends drove her to behavior she would not normally do. I have to say how much I hate Jules and her machinations are so obvious, but then we are seeing her through Gia's eyes. I wish Gia would just decide to kick Jules out of their little group forever. The ending is as I expected, and I wish there could've been some comeuppance for Jules for the evil way she treated Gia, but that would've made the ending too pat and we know real life doesn't work that way.

I love Bec, Hayden's sister. She's a real character, and she comes across as genuine and unique, and she stands out in a way that best friend Claire doesn't.

I guess overall, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND is really Gia's story, of growing up and finding out who she really is or who she wants to be, as well as the friends (new and old) that she wants to keep. Well worth the read!

REVIEW BY Ashia   

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

by Maggie Stiefvater
- rating
- story
- characters

"This book is insane!"

There's a weird kind of logic to the story, and Ms. Stiefvater's poetic, almost lyrical quality of writing draws you in and wraps around you and make you BELIEVE.

Adam Parrish has been growing and changing throughout the series, and I think it is here where he finally sees things for what they are. Perhaps he's been enlightened by what he is becoming, or perhaps he just sees things more clearly now:

"Now he could see it wasn't charity Gansey was offering. It was just truth.

And something else: friendship of the unshakeable kind. Friendship you could swear on. That could be busted nearly to breaking and come back stronger than before."

And slowly, though we know from the start that Gansey is the leader of the raven boys, slowly, throughout the three books, we are also seeing Gansey as to what he means to the boys--the one who unifies them, the one who keeps them in check, the one who grounds them. Though Ronan is the dreamer and Adam the magician, they're nothing without Gansey. And we also see how the others describe him, like how when he uses this particular voice, everyone obeys, even the bones. How he's the "king" in their campus, and he's referred to as king by different people throughout the book. Then, there's that first scene in the book when they went into the cave, when Gansey fell into a pit, then a flock of ravens fly out, cawing, "The Raven King, make way for the Raven King." Then Gansey came out. If these are foreshadows, dare I guess that he is the Raven King (book #4)?

I have to commend the author for creating these unusual characters, villains who act in unexpected ways, where they are not black and white but shades of gray. Then there's the woman they found in the cave, who appears to be loony with what she's saying and how she says it (singing). I don't know how the author comes up with these characters but they sure add flavor to the story and made the story evolve in unexpected directions.

I may be late to the series, but like the others, I can't wait for the next book! With all that's been happening in the first three books, the last book is sure to be cataclysmic and a thrilling conclusion to the series. I would be disappointed otherwise.

REVIEW BY Ashia   

The Dream Thieves

by Maggie Stiefvater
- rating
- story
- characters

"Expect the unexpected!"

THE DREAM THIEVES continue from where The Raven Boys ended. With some YA series, the middle books usually feel a bit contrived, there for the sake of needing to be filler to make up the series, but not THE DREAM THIEVES. It feels like an essential part of the series, building up on the mythology and worldbuilding introduced in the first book

While events move forward and the teens' relationships with each other continue to evolve, THE DREAM THIEVES mainly focuses on Ronan Lynch, his family background and his unique ability. Ronan is the prickly and grouchy and disturbed teen we met in the previous book, his condition helped only because Gansey took him under his wing and tempered him. Here, we understand him and his complex relationship with Gansey and the members of his family (Ronan's elder and younger brothers) a little better and saw how he became the way he was. There was a revelation about him that made the bulb in my head go off, though I may be wrong about that (but most probably not).

And Cabeswater is missing, as in, it's literally gone! They have to try to find where it's gone, but where to start? It was Ronan who finally realizes why Cabeswater is gone, and he needs to get it back. Unbeknownst to him, he needed Adam's help... And Adam is feeling a little lost since his bargain with Cabeswater. Will he lose himself totally?

I've said before in my review of The Raven Boys that it's fresh and unique, and this book is that, too, as well as strange (in a good way) and where time travels in a circle, sometimes events and situations defy logic. Again, the women at 300 Fox Way play a necessary part in the teens' quest, and we are also left with a surprising ending! (No! Don't read ahead. You'll regret it.)

Ms. Stiefvater's villains are also not stereotypical. I have to say that when you read a Stiefvater book, expect the unexpected! I can't wait to read the next book, and fortunately, I don't have to wait. :)

REVIEW BY Ashia   

The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater
- rating
- story
- characters

"Fascinating, fresh and unique"

Four boys studying in a school for the wealthy elite. One "outsider" girl befriending these boys.

Sound familiar?

If you're acquainted with the Japanese manga Boys Over Flowers, it has exactly that same premise above. (As an aside, if you're into watching TV series and don't mind reading subtitles, watch the Korean version. It's great!) But that's where the similarity ends, because Maggie Stiefvater's raven boys are so much more complicated and intriguing. Each raven boy and the "outsider" girl comes with his own baggage, and they are united by a common purpose. Ms. Stiefvater wove an intricate tale of love and friendship, adventure and fantasy.

Blue had long had psychics give her a prediction, that if she kissed her true love, he would die. Well, guess what. She had been going with her mom, a psychic, to the corpse road on St Mark's Eve all these years, but this is the first time she saw a spirit--Gansey, who is fated to die within 12 months. She met the boy several days later, and he turns out to be an Aglionby boy (elite school that rich kids go to, except for the occasional poor brilliant boy with a scholarship), and he's obsessed about finding this long-deceased Welsh king, Glendower, who is believed to be asleep along ley lines (energy lines). And he's been searching a long while together with friends and fellow schoolmates Ronan, Adam and Noah. Blue's life will never be the same again once she met these raven boys...

THE RAVEN BOYS is a fascinating first book into The Raven Cycle series. It sets the background for the series, as well as the friendship among the four teens and a possible romance between Blue and Adam, but a lot of things happen too that moved the series plot forward. Surprising twists and turns and revelations abound toward the latter half of the book, but Ms. Stiefvater placed hints in the first half that foreshadows these things, if you only knew how to look for them. For example, I admit I was so intrigued by the story that one of the things Noah said disturbed me/rang a bell in my head but I didn't pause to consider/think about it. Instead, I read on happily until I drew up in shock! I thought that was pretty clever of the author.

The worldbuilding is unique and fantastic. Gansey set the stage with stories of his research and about Glendower. However, I feel it's merely the tip of the iceberg and we'll see and know more in the coming books.

Blue's mother and the psychic adults in 300 Fox Way also play a meaty part in the story. In essence, they are like the consultants, since Blue isn't psychic. I think having their input makes this search for Glendower somewhat more believable.

If you're looking for a fresh, unique, paranormal read, pick this one up!

A Distant Voice
In life you don't find your voice. It finds you.

Violet Hayes knows how to survive the year living with her grandmother in the small town of Wandorah, Tennessee.

* Make Rose happy
* Don't sing or play guitar
* Avoid Sally Shaw
* Ignore Carter Jenkins

It seems simple enough, right? Wrong.

* How do you keep a depressed sister happy?
* How do you deny yourself your dream?
* How do you avoid a friendship?
* And how do you ignore a boy when he's everywhere you turn?

Violet's to-do list just became a whole lot harder.

Tied Up In You
Everyone says hotshot goalie Luke Jackson is God’s gift to girls, but the only girl he wants is his best friend, Malina Hall. He’s always known how brilliant she is, but now that he’s “accidentally” kissed her, he can’t stop thinking about her...or wanting to kiss her again.

Problem is, things have been a little...awkward since the kiss. Because she likes him, too? Hopefully, but even if she did, their futures—and the ridiculous schedules that come with them—are in the way. And now one of his teammates is showing interest, and the guy has more in common with Malina than Jackson ever will.

As her best friend, Jackson should get out of the way. But if there’s one thing he’s learned from hockey, it’s that you have to go for what you want, even if it means falling flat on your face. And he’s definitely falling for Malina.

Disclaimer: This book contains a hot hockey player who goes after what he wants, a super-hot, super-distracting shirtless workout, and the kind of best friends to lovers romance every girl in the friend zone has dreamed of.

Refuge for Masterminds: A Stranje House Novel
It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war….

Napoleon’s invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Jane—for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind.

Jane doesn’t consider herself a mastermind. It’s just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by so doing, she’s able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Fans of genre-blending, romance, and action will love this Regency-era alternate history novel filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains—the third in the Stranje House series. Don’t miss the first two books: A School for Unusual Girls and Exile for Dreamers.

More Than We Can Tell
Rev works hard to keep the demons of the time before his adoption at bay ... until a letter from his father after his 18th birthday brings the trauma of his childhood hurtling back.

Emma escapes real life by perfecting the online game she built from scratch. Coding is way easier than facing her parents' nasty relationship or the growing distance with her best friend ... But when an online troll's harassment starts to escalate, she fears for her safety.

When Rev and Emma meet, they're buckling under the weight of their secrets. Though both of them find it hard to put their problems into words, they connect instantly and deeply. Rev and Emma's problems might be worlds apart, but they promise to help each other no matter what.

But promises are made to be tested and some things hurt more than we can tell.

Four Times Broken
Tracey Warren has her last year of high school mapped out--stay focused, graduate in a few months, and get the hell out of Bennington, Virginia. Everything is working out in her favor. Life has finally started to level out, until a car accident sends her plans spiraling out of her control.

Her pedestrian reality crashes around her after an innocuous encounter with a diabolically handsome stranger. Nathan Newcomb has her head and her world altering minute by minute. Soon, she discovers the only cure for the uneasy feelings and abrasive pain is Nathan himself. A man whose very existence balances between violent chaos and rigidly controlled dangers.

Nathan knows the life of a woman mated to a Burdened Sephlem is destined for peril beyond a human’s reckoning, that he’ll be required to literally hand over his heart to her. But Tracey calls to his desire to experience love in spite of the hazards. And Nathan’s impossibly potent magnetism draws Tracey into a bonding that will put her in mortal danger again and again.

Once the pair becomes one, the threat escalates and nowhere is safe. There are enemies that lurk behind every corner. But the greatest danger may be in the bloodlines that course through Nathan’s veins.

Can their love survive or will their burdened souls surrender and fade away?

The Impossible Vastness of Us
"I know how to watch my back. I'm the only one that ever has."

India Maxwell hasn't just moved across the country—she's plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It's taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she's living in one of Boston's wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom's fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister's clique of friends, including Eloise's gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend, Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India's not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school's golden couple, aren't all they seem to be. In fact, everyone's life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what's left are truths that are brutal, beautiful and big enough to change them forever…

From New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young comes a story of friendship, identity and acceptance that will break your heart—and make it whole again.

Descent: Son of a Mermaid ~ Book One
Shea MacNamara's life just got complicated. When a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, fifteen-year-old Shea moves to Cape Cod to live with a grandmother he's never met. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he meets a girl along the shore who changes his life.

Forever.

Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from humans, where bloody war rages between opposing clans. A fragile peace accord hinges on marriage between the royal families, but treachery and magick lurk in every shadow.

With Kae's help, Shea discovers his true heritage and finds that his destiny lies somewhere far below the ocean's surface.

The Volk Advent
An orphaned Siberian teen loses her job and home on Christmas Eve. Left on the streets to freeze, Faina flees to an abandoned castle for shelter. At the castle, she discovers the animal-torn body of a local recluse. No wonder Eurasian wolves are not recommended for the first-time pet owner. Can a girl with no past, preserve her future from accusations of murderer and a pack of escaped wolves?

French Fries with a Side of Guys
Payton Carter is one of six kids (all of which are named after famous football players), not to mention the only girl in the Carter household. With this much testosterone and no mother, it’s no wonder she’s absolutely clueless when it comes to makeup, dances, and talking to guys she’s crushing on.

And now she’s about ready to start her freshman year of high school, which is nerve wrenching enough. But when she ends up running into her crush, Chance Montgomery, at her dad’s sports restaurant, she finds out that the quarterback for their rival team is moving to Aller Falls. This is nothing short of fate.

Payton realizes she has to find a way to impress Chance and get him to ask her out or at least know she’s interested in him—preferably without dropping a plateful of fries on his head, like she did last time. After taking her two oldest brothers’ advice, she decides to go out for the freshman football team, figuring that between practices and games she and her crush will surely be able to talk.

And maybe talking will lead to something more permanent or at least to a first kiss. Only this plan backfires in ways she never imagined, when she beats Chance Montgomery out of the starting quarterback position. Now not only does she make him the laughing stock of the team, but also has to figure out how to avoid the snotty cheerleaders, a traitor best friend, not to mention winning games for her team. Too bad this is just the beginning of her freshman year.

The Dark Hour
Becca Simpson is a not so average teenager, and she knows it. In fact, she embraces it. She was chosen to be a Keeper, one who keeps the gates sealed between the magic world and the "normal" world. The only time she isn't safe from the dark creatures of the Other Side is the Dark Hour. Every night, at the same time, the gates between the two worlds open and Becca is left vulnerable until the gate closes and the minions disappear. But that's why she has Erik Manchester. As her Guardian, Erik is in charge of making sure no one, or no thing, comes after her to take her away. Because waiting for her on the Other Side is a tyrannical emperor, looking to use her status to meld the two worlds into one.

With Erik, Becca feels safe, but suffocated. There are rules she has to follow in order to keep out of the hands of the emperor. Then Kyne walks into her life and challenges everything she knows. Not only does he know things about the Other Side, but he's from there. And found a way to stay in the normal world without frying.

An Enchantment of Ravens
A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Learning to Swim
"Learning to Swim is a darkly romantic beginning to what promises to be an unusual contemporary YA fantasy series." --Serena Chase, USA Today

When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.

Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?

As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.

Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened
Imagine waking up to find the world has ended, but unfortunately you're not alone...

For Connor Innis, awakening from a year-long coma with no memories, no ability to move, and unable to speak was bad enough. Then he learns that a bioweapon set off a zombie apocalypse—for real—while he was sleeping, and the world he can't even remember no longer exists.

Rehabilitation might be torture, but far worse awaits him outside. All too soon, the hospital Mentor declares him fit to leave with nothing to go home to except a city full of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. That is, until he forms a strange relationship with the one he nicknames 'Zombie Girl'.

Previously published by Lycaon Press, 22nd April 2015.

WARNING: contains swearing, and some moderate gore and violence.

Everything, Everything
The instant #1 New York Times bestseller--now a major motion picture starring Amandla Stenberg as Maddy and Nick Robinson as Olly.

Risk everything . . . for love.

What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face . . . or kiss the boy next door? In Everything, Everything, Maddy is a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly is the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Everything, Everything will make you laugh, cry, and feel everything in between. It's an innovative, inspiring, and heartbreakingly romantic debut novel that unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more.

Shortcomings
High School is hard enough without the cold stares from classmates that remind you every day how different you are.

Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down

Traitors' Gate
Only time will tell who the traitors really are…

Sixteen-year-old Lucinda is getting the home-coming from hell. England is in the grip of the War of the Roses and her tyrant father has promised her hand to a vile man three times her age. In need of aid, she seeks sanctuary with an old childhood friend only to find him accused of treachery and harboring a supernatural secret. All too soon Lucinda is caught in a fight that’s not her own but, to be with the man she loves, she’ll gladly take up arms.

Until Friday Night
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

Starr Lost, Book Two of the Starr Fall Series
A Starr falls, and a family is found.

On the run from the Organization, Starr and Christian find safety on the Qualla Boundary with their friends, Ben and Coda, but Starr needs answers. She owes her dear dead friends, Sami and Jody, that much. She forms a team of her own to fight the general and his recruits.

Di, a mutual friend and anti-everything is a no-brainer, plus her Taser will come in handy. Frank, Starr’s BFF, will put his life on the line for her. Ben and Coda, not to be outdone by Starr’s friends, also swear their allegiance. Christian’s the only hold out. He knows what the Organization is capable of. He has the beaten body to prove it, but when Starr wants something, she gets it.

Now that the team’s together, everything should be perfect. Trouble is Starr loves Christian but so does Di. And Frank, well, he’s never been very good at hiding his love for Starr. Will his four-year long crush on her threaten the safety of the team?

Life becomes tense on the Qualla Boundary, sparks fly, and the Organization is about to smash in their door.

Holding Up the Universe
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Destiny: New Avalon, book 1
Constantly teased and taunted by the popular girls, Elena Baxter desperately wants to fit in. On her sweet sixteenth, she receives two shocking gifts: telekinesis and the surprising truth about her heritage. With high hopes that things will be different now, Elena returns to school to find that nothing has changed. Only this time her hurt feelings and frustration boil into something even she cannot understand.

When her powers explode, chaos ensues and she learns that her new ability is greater than she ever desired. As she learns to control her powers, Elena discovers there’s so much more to her heritage than she ever imagined.

Someone Like Him
City girl, country guy. Will opposites attract--or clash?

When New-York-City girl Emily visits her cousin Janelle in Oregon, Emily wonders how she'll survive the wilderness. Janelle wonders if the wilderness will survive Emily's visit--and if she can convince her cousin to help save part of an old-growth forest.

Meanwhile, Emily also wonders if a big-city girl can get along with a county guy--named Bret. Under forest canopies and by crystal-clear waters she struggles with her growing attraction to him. But they're so different. Whoever thought she'd fall for someone like him?

A School For Unusual Girls
"...kept me reading until late into the night...completely original - and totally engrossing - world, full of smart girls, handsome boys, and sinister mysteries."
- Meg Cabot, #1 NYT Bestselling Author

"...enticing from the first sentence...gender stereotypes are turned upside down..."
- New York Times Book Review

"Spellbinding! ...a beautifully written tale of adventure, intrigue, and romance...a true page-turner!"
- Rachel Hawthorne, NYT Bestselling Author

A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin.

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

The Possibility of Somewhere
Together is somewhere they long to be.

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted-- he's admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There's only one obstacle in Ash's path: Eden Moore―the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden's ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college -- and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . .When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream -- one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?

Our Dark Duet
The sequel—and conclusion—to Victoria Schwab’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller, This Savage Song.

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

A gorgeously written dark fantasy from New York Times-bestselling author Victoria Schwab, and one to hand to fans of Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Maggie Stiefvater.

The Passage, a Dance, & a Little White Dress
It's been a week since 17-year-old Zoe Jabril found out her best friend is a Guardian Angel, her boyfriend is a Nephilim, and a fellow classmate is a Fairy. What makes Zoe so special? She’s destined to unify Enlightens to battle evil—that is, if Demons don’t kill her first.

With "Project: Enlightens Unite" underway, Zoe learns the history of the area wolf pack and realizes she's in a race against time to get her newly discovered talents under control. Despite struggling to fight a mysterious attraction to her new neighbor, rescue her boyfriend from Demons, and travel into Fairyland to convince the Summer King to join the fight, Zoe must still attend high school classes so her nosy parents don’t suspect anything is out of the ordinary before Demons can mount another attack.

Zoe will need all the help she can get, from the most unlikely of sources, if she’s to save her boyfriend's life and prevent the Devil from escaping Hell on her eighteenth birthday.

Full Fusion (Book 1 of The Fusion Series)
Eighteen-year-old Roxie Sebastian lives a charmed life, and she knows it. Too bad she can’t feel it. All her life, she’s felt disconnected from the world around her. Everything changes just before graduation, when she’s drawn to an eerie, brilliant light—which narrowly misses her as it blows up her friend Lincoln’s car. Clearly someone’s after Roxie, and finally Lincoln tells her the truth: He and Roxie are angels, beings from another dimension, and that light is her soul, separated from her human body in a traumatic birth.

Once a skeptical Roxie rules out the other possibilities—like Lincoln created this delusion to escape his abusive father—she accepts her gut-deep knowledge of the truth. But someone has been screwing with her light, using it to commit crimes, and their actions are about to cause irreparable damage to two worlds: the one she lives in, and the one she can’t remember.

Aided by her best friend Jordan, her boyfriend Tucker, and Lincoln, Roxie tracks down the criminal and uncovers many more secrets not only of her past, but of the history of their race on Earth. And then Roxie faces a horrible dilemma—the only way she can stop them from ripping apart both worlds is to fuse with her light…which could be tainted by the evil with which it was used.

Starr Gone
A Starr gone. A team betrayed.

You never know who your true friends are until a gun’s pointed at you. One will take a bullet, and the other will pull the trigger. Starr learned that lesson the hard way.

The perfect smile. A killer attitude. General Treadwell wanted nothing more than to turn Starr Bishop into the ideal assassin, but she’s far more valuable as Jessica Chamberlain, granddaughter and heir to Chamberlain Chocolates. Luckily, he’s found two enthusiastic replacements. They lack Starr’s intelligence, but no matter, they possess their own weapons of persuasion along with a flair for the dramatic, and that’s never a bad thing.

Di, along with Christian, Frank, Ben and Coda, are determined to keep Starr safe, but the depths of betrayal crack the very foundation of the team. When Starr becomes a pawn in a game of power, money, and manipulation, Di channels her WWSD (What Would Starr Do) to rally the team. She owes her best friend that much. No... More.

Just One of the Boys
Alice Bell has one goal: to play for the elite junior hockey team the Chicago Falcons.But when she’s passed over at tryouts for being a girl, she’ll do anything to make her dream a reality...even disguising herself as her twin brother. With her amazing skills on the ice, Alice is sure she’ll fit in easily. That is, until she starts falling for one of her teammates...

Hayden Tremblay, star of the Falcons, can’t keep himself out of the penalty box. Constantly living in the shadow of his older brother, Hayden’s losing his passion for hockey. But when he gets shown up on the ice by the Falcons’ new rookie, Hayden’s determined to teach the kid a thing or two. Little does he guess that “Al’s” surprises on the ice are just the beginning...

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush title proves that wonderful things can happen when you’re brave enough to go after your dream. Dream hockey player, that is! Warning--a few locker room scenes are included...

Devil's Playground
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Winters may be a witch, but she doesn’t know the first thing about magic—unless you count accidental bouts of spontaneous combustion. Elizabeth’s father, a wizard himself, has forbidden the use of her powers for her own protection, but when accusations of witchcraft start flying through Salem Village, she wishes she was more prepared.
Despite her lack of magical knowledge, Elizabeth appoints herself to save innocent women from the demise the village has in store for them. Elizabeth finds, however, that she is not the hero Salem needs her to be.
She meant to save them. She cursed them instead.

Put It Out There (Britannia Beach 1)
Returning home to Britannia Beach a year after her life was shattered is bittersweet for Derian Lafleur. Although some things settle back into place, others don’t click like they used to…especially her friendship with Trevor Maverty.

Derian suddenly wishes the boy next door would see her as more than just a kid sister type. She tries to be everything she thinks he’s looking for— bolder, more experienced – but is that who she wants to be?

With the fate of her family’s historic inn on the line and Trevor making life more complicated by the day, Derian struggles to manage her unexpected feelings, and deal with a past she’s not quite ready to leave behind.

Fire And Ice
OPTIONED FOR MOTION PICTURE!

Adventure wasn’t something Lorelei Alundra was interested in. Gifted with two other-worldly talents for singing and healing, she’s always shied away from her gifts and the spotlight, preferring quiet anonymity, over attention and fame. But when she meets the enigmatic Adrius, with his dark and dangerous mystique and eyes that could see into her soul, her uneventful life becomes irrevocably altered.

Adrius turns up in every one of her classes and knows more about her than any newcomer should. Including the condition of her mother who is suffering from a mysterious illness. Accepting his offer to help leads her into a terrifying and thrilling world, where Elves are even hotter than Legolas, and Faeries.... are nothing like Tinkerbell. The two magical beings are fire and ice opposites. One Lorelei can’t help falling for, and the other she's compelled to be with.

Now she’s trapped, expected to prevent a war between witches and faeries, or forfeit her mother’s life. Nothing is what it seems. Not her family. Not the Fey. Not even Adrius, whose feelings for her balance precariously between desire and danger. Despite her better judgment, she can’t say away from him.
As secrets unravel and unsettling truths are revealed, Lorelei must fight to save much more than her mother’s life. One mistake could put the fate of his world, and her soul in jeopardy.

But hey, no pressure… right.

By Your Side
An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

The Romeo Club
What happens when you agree to help your brother “de-nerdify” so he can catch the attention of the popular Chloe Anders, and to everyone's surprise, he actually lands her?

And what if his equally geeky friends come running with girl wish lists of their own, offering money for your services?

Well, if you’re sixteen-year-old, Delyla Denson, then you start The Romeo Club. A secret club where she’ll teach these guys how talk, act, and be cool around girls. It’s a win-win situation.

She’ll get enough money for the awesome prom dress she’s had her eye on, and the guys, well, they’ll get dates and maybe learn how to do something other than beat the next level on their video games.

There are only two problems with this plan. One, her quarterback/track star boyfriend is getting jealous of how much time she’s spending away from him and decides to try and figure out what’s going on. And two, Delyla is kind of falling for her brother’s BFF, Trey who she’s been hanging out with a lot more. And who thanks to her help, has caught the attention of the beautiful, perfect, and popular, Portia Rickard. With Portia and Trey heating up, Delyla realizes that maybe the person she’s meant to be with has been in front of her all this time.

But falling for Trey means she’ll have to take drastic measures including sabotage, with a capital S.

Josie's Coat
A woman with shoulder bones as sharp as an eagle’s talons—bones almost protruding from her skin—opens her mouth as wide as it’ll go, impossibly wide, consuming the pill that takes both of her arms to cradle. The nourishment makes her thin stomach pop out like she’s pregnant with a child so large it’ll burst through her stomach. She swallows slowly and licks her lips. Her eyes search around hungrily for more.

That dream again.

Josie is skilled at her job as an “unfortunate” who inhabits the bodies of her clients to perform their work while they sleep, but her coworkers’ cruel jealousy over her success leads to her enslavement and the loss of her dream-worker status. A YA sci-fi reimagining of the tale of Jacob’s favorite son Joseph, his dreams, and his famous coat.

A novelette by the author of The Never Veil Series and Fall Far from the Tree.

P.S. I Like You
Signed, sealed, delivered...

While spacing out in Chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk, and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters -- sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she's kind of falling for this letter writer. Only who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery, and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can't always be spelled out...

Kasie West brings irresistible wit, warmth, and sparkle to this swoon-worthy story of love showing up when you least expect it.