The Death of Mermaids

23014670Up front, I shall say that I forgive Erika Swyler for making the main character of The Book of Speculation a man. I want to get this out in the open, because I really like this book. I even like Simon Watson (the main character). I just think he would have been better off as a lady. Not everything can be perfect, but The Book of Speculation nearly is, in my opinion, so I wanted you to know what I consider to be it’s primary flaw at the outset so you don’t think I’m gushing too much.

Simon Watson is a librarian with a lot of problems. His historic Long Island home is about to fall into the ocean, his job is in danger, his parents are dead and his younger sister Enola isn’t speaking to him as much as he’d like.

Simon has spent his entire life trying to be responsible for himself and Enola, and barely being able to keep things together. At the start of the novel, it’s clear that things aren’t going perfectly for Simon. The house his parents loved is falling apart, so much so that it will likely fall over a cliff into the ocean pretty much any time. Budget cuts at the library threaten his job. He seems to be falling for a lifelong friend, which will complicate his relationship with her family. It’s all a bit messy, really. The way life is, you know?

I think that’s one of the things that struck me most about the book. Aside from the fantastical and magical (of which there is plenty), Simon’s adult life is agonizingly real. He seems to be about my age (somewhere in his late 20s/early thirties) and he’s finding that being a legitimate adult is a series of painful, complicated choices. Joy is mixed with frustration and responsibility and unexpected mysteries.

When Simon receives a beautiful antique book from an unknown bookseller, he’s hurtled into his family’s past and the magic of the book unfolds. You see, the women in Simon’s family are amazing swimmers, divers, breath-holders. For generations they have been circus performers at one time or another. But until Simon gets the book, he doesn’t know much about this at all. The man who sends him the book does so because it is inscribed with his grandmother’s name and he felt Simon should have it. Having the book leads Simon to research his family and he finds a startling pattern regarding the deaths in his family.

On the surface, Simon’s book is a journal recounting the day to day operation of a traveling circus in early America. Its author was the owner of the circus and so it contains some fairly uninteresting details, but also a detailed account of two particularly fascinating additions to the circus, a mute young man and a young woman who’s talent was not drowning.

Swyler presents us with two stories, one of Simon and his desperate search to unlock the mysteries of the book and his family, and the story of the circus. The narrative switches back and forth between the two stories very effectively, releasing bits of knowledge from the past that inform Simon’s growing predicament as the book wears on. The more Simon learns about the women in his family, the more terrified he becomes for his estranged sister, Enola. There’s a bit of a race against time at the end of the book and the conclusion is extremely satisfying.

I love how the particular mundanity of life is absolutely infused with a mysterious magic in this book. I love that The Book of Speculation celebrates strangeness. Sure, there’s Enola’s boyfriend who’s covered in tattoos and can ignite lightbulbs with his touch, but there’s also Simon himself, who seems about as a boring as a fellow can be, except for the fact that he can hold his breath underwater for nearly ten minutes… Maybe more. And yet, none of this is too odd for the book. None of it is condemned in any way. In fact, it would seem that the book reassures its reader that the strange and uncanny are valuable and worth treasuring, even when they lead to heartache.

The novel reminds me quite a bit of The Night Circus, even aside from the obvious similarity. The Book of Speculation works with a magical system that is presented without much explanation and in some ways this feels like magical realism, but in others it’s a bit more fantastic. Folks who enjoyed The Night Circus will like this book, as well as people who enjoyed Water for Elephants, as this story also has a strong historical component. In fact, I would go so far as to say that people who enjoy dark (but not necessarily sinister) stories of the strange magic of the circus will enjoy The Book of Speculation. 

Overall, I have to say this is probably one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It is most definitely my favorite standalone novel so far. I do love a series, but it is wonderful to put a book down knowing you’ve read the end. I hope you’ll pick this one up.

Allison Carr Waechter would love to sink under the waves and nap at the bottom of the sea. Call her a selkie and watch her swim away. 

 


Fall 2016 YA Preview: October Books

Hi! I know it seems premature to preview October releases in June, but I’ll be reading and recommending many of these books over the summer. (Summaries are from Goodreads.)

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2), by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands. But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

ICYMI: Here’s my recommendation for Illuminae.

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When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore:  To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

ICYMI: Here’s my recommendation for The Weight of Feathers.

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A Darkly Beating Heart, by Lindsay Smith: A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

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Beast, by Brie Spangler: Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

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Bound by Blood and Sand, by Becky Allen: Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

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Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven: 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.

ICYMI: Here’s my recommendation for All the Bright Places.

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Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2), by Ryan Graudin: For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

ICYMI: Here’s my recommendation for Wolf by Wolf.

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The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3), by Marie Lu: There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.

Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

ICYMI: Here’s my recommendation for The Rose Society.

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Frost Like Night (Snow Like Ashes #3), by Sara Raasch:
Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

Alyssa wants to start reading these books now! She thanks the Boulder Book Store, the publishers, Edelweiss, and NetGalley for digital review copies, for review purposes only.

 

 

 


Summer 2016 YA Preview: July/August

Here are my most anticipated July and August releases. (Summaries are from Goodreads.)

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This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), by Victoria Schwab: The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls. As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it. When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

Math_9780553539479_jkt_all_r1.inddHow to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch #1), by Adriana Mather: Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history is about to repeat itself.

27245910The Shadow Hour (The Girl at Midnight #2), by Melissa Grey: Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace. The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart. Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome. She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight. Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature–or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground? Welcome to the shadow hour.

23454794Wax, by Gina Damico: Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen. With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that’s taking hold of their town before it’s too late?

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The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3), by Mary E. Pearson: Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous – what will happen now?

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2), by Sabaa Tahir: A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts. In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

28205310Poisoned Blade (Court of Fives #2), by Kate Elliot: Now a Challenger, Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives–the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons alike. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on her traveling party puts Jes at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos–the prince she still loves–is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…. She must become a warrior.

MIDDLE GRADE

25689012The Voyage to Magical North, by Claire Fayers: Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter. When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

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Sticks & Stones, by Abby Cooper: Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she’s gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she’s not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she’s starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.

The Rat Prince, by Bridget Hodder: The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is turned into her coachman by the Fairy Godmother on the night of the big ball. And he’s about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on his way to a most unexpected happy ending!

Alyssa is happy spring is almost here. She can’t wait to read these books outside!


Witchcraft, Science and the End of the World

Somewhere between 25372801Lauren Groff’s poignant Fates and Furies and Jo Walton’s offbeat Among Others, lies Charlie Jane Anders’ new book All the Birds in the Sky. Patricia and Laurence meet as children, both driven to the outskirts of junior high society they form a bond based on their mutual difficulty fitting in. The cruelty of their peers throws them together, and a battle between magic and science nearly tears them (and the world) apart.

I have a hard time classifying this book into any one genre. For much of the book Patricia and Laurence are children, but then they grow up, so it’s not “adult” or “young adult.” There’s magic, but it’s not really fantasy. There’s lots of science, but it’s not sci-fi. There’s a tough apocalyptic future, but it’s not exactly dystopian. It’s a kind of magical realism, but it’s not anything like most of the magical realism you’ve read. NPR points out that the novel is “science fantasy,” but that even that isn’t exactly right. I loved this book because even in its messier moments, it takes elements from all my favorite genres, shakes them up and dumps them out into this really powerful story about love and understanding.

On the surface, it’s somewhat predictable and easy to understand the idea that “science” and “magic” might find themselves in a battle at the end of the world. Why wouldn’t they? So often it seems that science ignores the more magical sides of nature and that magic defies science. However, I think Anders’ choice to bring the two together in Laurence and Patricia is cleverer than I expected and a great deal more moving.

I admit that while I was reading I wondered a little where Anders was going. At times, All the Birds in the Sky can feel a little scattered, but what stands out to me is the depth of character in both Patricia and Laurence. Many of the supporting cast feels flat, but in a way that serves the text well. It puts Patricia and Laurence in sharp relief against a backdrop of a story that is so crazy that it threatens to run amok throughout the novel. Patricia and Laurence are so well developed and well played that it all just works.

But this isn’t just a love story, or a story of the apocalypse, event though it would be easy to narrow it down to one of the two. Deeply entrenched in the book are themes about ethics and personal power that compel as much as the character-driven aspects of the story. By setting the story in the very near future, Anders asks us to think ahead about our relationships with technology, the planet and certain amount of personal responsibility.

Also, there’s robots and a school for witchcraft. All in one book! Listen, I think if you like the way Groff weaves the story of two people’s impact on one another in Fates and Furies, and Walton’s ability to make the fantastic utterly real (and practically mundane) then you’ll like this book. I think if you enjoyed the way that Emily St. John Mandel approached dystopia in Station Eleven, you’ll like this book. But really, it’s not like any of these books. If you’re looking for something a bit different than your usual sci-fi/fantasy fare, this is a lovely break from the norm.

Allison Carr Waechter is tired of winter and is ready to read outside in her hammock. 


Spring 2016 Preview: May Releases

I can’t wait to start recommending May releases! My favorites so far are The Crown’s Game and The Star-Touched Queen, and I look forward to continuing to tackle my TBR pile over the next couple of months. (Summaries are from Goodreads.)

26156203-1The Crown’s Game, by Evelyn Skye: Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

25203675The Star-Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi: Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth. But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger….The Star-Touched Queen is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

17927395A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas: In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

26625494The Sleeping Prince, by Melinda Salisbury: Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more. Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

 

23308084The Rose and the Dagger, by Renee Ahdieh: The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn….In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire.

 

18046383Circle of Jinn, by Lori Goldstein: Being Jinn is Azra’s new reality. As she grants wishes under the watchful eye of the Afrit council, she remains torn between her two worlds—human and Jinn. Soon, secrets spill. Zars are broken. Humans become pawns. And rumors of an uprising become real as the Afrit’s reach extends beyond the underground world of Janna. Straddling the line becomes impossible. Aware of her unique abilities, Azra must not just face but embrace her destiny. But when the role she must play and those she must protect expand to include a circle of Jinn greater than her own, Azra will be forced to risk everything. In this dramatic sequel to Becoming Jinn, Azra’s story comes to a heartfelt and thrilling conclusion.

Vanishing Throne_final front cover.pdfThe Vanishing Throne, by Elizabeth May: Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes up in the fae world, trapped and tortured by the evil Lonnrach. With the help of an unexpected ally, Aileana re-enters the human world, only to find everything irrevocably changed. Edinburgh has been destroyed, and the few human survivors are living in an uneasy truce with the fae, while both worlds are in danger of disappearing altogether. Aileana holds the key to saving both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing that might be her life. Rich with imaginative detail, action, fae lore, and romance, The Vanishing Throne is a thrilling sequel to The Falconer. (Check out Nicola’s recommendation.)

26074185Ruined, by Amy Tintera: Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped. But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera….In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

26072589Queen of Hearts, by Colleen Oakes: As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life. When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

26085520Everland, by Wendy Spinale: Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive. London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders — the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer. Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return.

25897757The May Queen Murders, by Sarah Jude: Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

22567212It Wasn’t Always Like This, by Joy Preble: Part thriller, part murder mystery, part fairy tale in the vein of Tuck Everlasting comes a story of accidental immortality, star-crossed romance, and a forever-seventeen-year-old girl who won’t give up the search for the boy she loves. In 1916, Emma O’Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island off St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging—as do the Ryans, her family’s business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she’s in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O’Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder.

25163627The Safest Lies, by Megan Miranda: Kelsey was raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with Kelsey growing inside her. Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile for their own protection, but that plan is shattered when she drives off a cliff and is rescued by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker. A few days later, she arrives home to face her greatest fear: her mother is missing.

 

17933522Please Don’t Tell, by Laura Tims: Joy killed Adam Gordon—at least, that’s what she thinks. The night of the party is hazy at best. But she knows what Adam did to her twin sister, Grace, and she knows he had to pay for it. What Joy doesn’t expect is that someone else saw what happened. And one night a note is shoved through her open window, threatening Joy that all will be revealed. Now the anonymous blackmailer starts using Joy to expose the secrets of their placid hometown. And as the demands escalate, Joy must somehow uncover the blackmailer’s identity before Joy is forced to make a terrible choice.

26116473The Outliers, by Kimberly McCreight: It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself. This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him. But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast.

 

23587107Frannie and Tru, by Karen Hattrup: When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

 

23947922If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo: Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She’s determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself–including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life–and her new love?

26116460Unrivaled, by Alyson Noel: Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago. She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel. That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target.

23018249The Girl I Used to Be, by April Henry: When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

 

 

9780399175411_OutrunTheMoon_BOM.inddOutrun the Moon, by Stacey Lee: San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes. On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the ‘bossy’ cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

25862970Traitor Angels, by Anne Blankman: Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects. Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom. Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn.

22297294Girl Against the Universe, by Paula Stokes: Maguire is bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around….It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

26115772The Fall of Butterflies, by Andrea Portes: We Were Liars meets Looking for Alaska in a uniquely funny and heartbreaking teen novel about a passionate-yet-doomed friendship set against a backdrop of wealth and glamour. Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

PNOK Final Cover 101515.inddPlaces No One Knows, by Brenna Yovanoff: Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs. Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world. But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

25796637Devil and the Bluebird, by Jennifer Mason-Black: Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

13260524Some Kind of Happiness, by Claire Legrand: THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT: Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.) Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer. Never having met said grandparents. Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.) Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real–and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones…..Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination.

27065377Beware That Girl, by Teresa Toten: The Haves. The Have Nots. Kate O’Brien appears to be a Have Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of–some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. And she’s also a masterful liar.

Alyssa loves putting together her always expanding TBR lists and recommending new and forthcoming releases in (mostly) YA fiction. By the time you read this, she’s likely added even more books!