Publisher: HarperTeen

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Three Dark Crowns: Review

Three Dark Crowns: Review

This is the dark, twisted tale of three sisters fair destined to destroy each other. Or rather, only two need die. One will emerge victorious. On the island of Fennbirn, when the queen gives birth it is always to triplet girls. Each new queen is either a poisoner, a naturalist, or an elementalist. The queen identifies which queen is which and then abdicates. The new queens are raised together until the age of 6, when they are claimed by their different factions and trained in their powers. In the year of their 16th birthday, the Ascension year, the queens will each put their powers on public display and then proceed to attempt to murder each other. They have one year to accomplish their tasks. The last queen standing wins. Of the three sisters, we spend the most time with Arsinoe, the naturalist. The naturalists live in a seaside town that evokes a humble,… Read more »

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Flamecaster: Review

Flamecaster: Review

Some things Flamecaster contains: spies, blood-drinking assassin priests(!!!), magic, dragons(!!!!!), intrigue, deception, and heartbreak. Oh, that heartbreak. It’s interesting both that the author chose to return to the same world as a previous series, and also was not at all afraid to wreck some heavy damage in the lives of previously established and beloved characters. Things have not been happy for Raisa and Han in recent times. Their eldest child, and heir to the throne, was killed in combat not too long before the start of the book. You wander along thinking, “Yes, this is pretty bad.” And then it gets worse: Yes, she goes there. But I admire this for the boldness of it, if nothing else. And also, When I saw the first synopsis for this book, and its heavy mention of Adrian sul’Han, I must admit I was worried! One of the things I enjoyed so much… Read more »

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Girl Against the Universe: Why Anxiety Doesn’t Make Us Weak + international giveaway

Girl Against the Universe: Why Anxiety Doesn’t Make Us Weak + international giveaway

This is where I would usually write an introduction about why you should check out Paula Stokes’ new book Girl Against the Universe, but honestly, her guest post does a brilliant job of that already! It’s a contemporary YA novel about a girl named Maguire who feels guilty for surviving a bad accident and has started to believe she might be the cause of anything bad that happens around her, and it’s a story that’s strong on friendships, parent/teen relationships, positive therapy experiences, and more. I think many readers can relate to being introverts, or feeling nervous in social situations, so I’m honored to have Paula here to talk about how fear can manifest in an anxiety like Maguire’s. She’s also generously offering up an autographed hardcover to our readers, so stick around for the giveaway at the end. Why Anxiety Does Not Make Us Weak by Paula Stokes I… Read more »

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Reign of Shadows: Review

Reign of Shadows: Review

I wonder sometimes if I’m too harsh on a book from the start because an early detail annoys me. Case in point, Reign of Shadows takes place in a world of night, the moon fixed in a perpetual solar eclipse. Why would you name a girl who was born on the night this happens Luna? While the world is plunging into chaos and fear you name a newborn baby after the darkness? I am guessing that it will eventually be revealed that her birth and this eclipse are tied together and Luna has some Very Special Powers indeed. This perpetual eclipse also gave me some questions about how exactly any life is still functioning? I am perfectly willing to buy that this is a fantasy story and that I am supposed to just go with it. Some things, like bats evolving into 4 foot monstrosities in the span of 17… Read more »

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

It finally happened. A book was special enough, funny enough, heartfelt enough, and just downright good enough to break the spell. My awful slump might be officially over; and it’s all thanks to Patrick Ness’ sly, hilarious, wry, and absolutely on point observations on growing up and what it means to move on. What is this book even about? It’s hard to pigeonhole this one into a genre! It’s sort of fantasy, sort of paranormal, sort of sci-fi…but it’s not really any of those things. There are definite supernatural happenings going on in the background. But this is very purposefully a book that is not about those happenings. The point is that there are regular, ordinary (well,for the most part) citizens who are just trying to continue going about their lives, even in the midst of very obvious supernatural turmoil. This book is about the ordinary people who just keep… Read more »

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What We Saw: Review

What We Saw: Review

If What We Saw isn’t already on your radar for September 2015 releases, it should be. I can’t say that I enjoyed it – the book, for the most part, centers on the rape of a high school student by a group of her peers and its effect on her community – but it’s a good book and an important one, and you should read it. If you’ve ever wanted a book that unpacks and critiques rape culture, What We Saw is here and it’s a good start. Here’s the premise of What We Saw: high school junior Kate Weston wakes up the morning after a party with little memory of what happened the night before. While Kate’s concerns are initially about herself (did she drive herself home? Is her car across town? Does Ben Cody, longtime good friend and fellow scholar-athlete, like her?), her focus quickly shifts. The next day at… Read more »

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Challenger Deep: Review

Challenger Deep: Review

Challenger Deep is a difficult book to read, but it’s worth it. I’ve been excited about Challenger Deep since I heard Neal Shusterman and his son, Brendan, speak about it at NCTE and ALAN. They both spoke pretty openly about the family’s experience with mental illness, and also mentioned that some of the artwork Brendan had created during his illness had been incorporated into the final novel. I’ve been really interested in seeing what the book would look like since then. More complex representations of mental illness can only be a good thing when it comes to YA lit, and I’m happy to say that Challenger Deep absolutely satisfies on that count. Challenger Deep takes the form of two alternating narratives: Caden Bosch’s day-to-day life with his friends and family, which is becoming increasingly disrupted by his mental illness, and his other life as the artist-in-residence aboard a ship. The ship is headed… Read more »

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