Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy—the trope’s token boy—in trouble for speaking out in his last novel role. He’s sentenced to do therapy in TropeTown with other Manic Pixies who have behaved outside of their roles. Riley isn’t sure therapy is going to help him, until he meets Zelda, another Manic Pixie, and decides maybe it won’t be so bad.
But the Manic Pixies have been causing trouble, and now they might be terminated. All the Manic Pixies will have to work together to save their trope from destruction, and Riley will have to choose between a secure future, and the chance to seize his greatest dreams.
I saw a comment that Riley might be a character from The Fault in Our Stars—although that’s never stated, obviously—but I’ve never read that, so I can’t comment on any similarities (I’m sure it’s a wonderful book, but I don’t read anything I know ahead of time will make me cry). This novel is ironic and lighthearted. It’s an easy read, and there are a few moments of surprising depth—like the lesson about other, now-retired tropes being terminated because of their racist characteristics—but at heart, it’s just a fun read.
Lenore Appelhans’s new book is The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project.
(Galley courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Victoria Parker lost her mother to cancer a few years ago, but promised she’d always take care of her father. Now he’s remarried, and she has a stepsister a little younger than herself, and her dad’s been acting weird. She knows something isn’t right, but she has no idea how not right it is—until she finds herself locked out of the house at 3 a.m. because her dad called the cops on her.
Now she’s in foster care away from everything she’s every known. The small country school is a nightmare, but she soon has a few friends…but she doesn’t let anyone know she’s in foster care. And she definitely doesn’t talk about why. Her dreams of college are the only things keeping her going. Certainly not her hateful foster mother.
But Victoria can’t stop worrying about her stepsister. She knows she must protect Sarah from her own father, but she can’t do it alone. She’ll have to give up her secrets if she’s to keep Sarah safe.
This is a book about some hard topics: abuse, foster care, the loss of a parent. Victoria spends a lot of time in denial, but the author takes care to show the reader why she’s in denial, and how she rationalizes things to herself. I found this story both horrifying and sad, but it’s very well-written and engrossing, and I highly recommend it.
Nikki Barthelmess is a journalist and an author. The Quiet You Carry is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of North Star Editions/Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Lai is a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager with abilities that frighten the Etioles without abilities—but with numbers and power on their side. Lai is in prison: by her own choice and for her own reasons. Going back to the military is not what she had in mind, but when a chance to join a special team of Nytes comes her way, she decides that it might suit her own agenda perfectly, if she keeps the truth of her power to herself.
She joins Jay, an uptight perfectionist haunted by his father’s expectations, Al, whose short temper keeps her own secret hidden, and Erik, a surly amnesiac desperate to find out who he really is. Their team has a chance to stop the rising rebellion between Nytes and Etioles, but will the secrets they’re hiding destroy their team before they can?
This is a dystopian story, but without the dystopian feel. The focus is on the two groups, Nytes and Etioles, and the conflict and rebellion between them. Each of these characters has secrets, big ones, and keeps everyone at a distance to keep their secret safe. This novel is about finding trust—for yourself and those closest to you—even in the face of danger. An enjoyable read not bogged down with romance and flirting (although there is a teensy bit).
Caitlin Lochner lives and teaches in Tokyo. A Soldier and a Liar is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Swoon Reads via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
In an alternate Italy, Elsa can create new worlds by writing in books. Special writing. Special books. Special talent…and one that puts her in danger when political extremists steal a book that can change the very nature of the world itself.
In the wake of a horrific betrayal, Elsa has one goal: track down the book before the extremists can use it to wreak havoc. Getting revenge on her betrayer will be just a bonus. But Elsa doesn’t realize the secrets she’ll encounter along the way, some of which she’s even kept from herself.
I love steampunk, but I don’t actively seek it out—I don’t know why. I have not read the first book in this duology, Ink, Iron, and Glass, but I highly recommend doing that, as I spent the first third of the book being highly confused. I ended up loving the world and its nuances: differences from our own, but some similarities, too. There’s a lot of action here, and a bit of romance, but it’s all woven together seamlessly. I like the intrigue with Casa as well.
Gwendolyn Clare is a scientist and a writer. Mist, Metal, and Ash is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Imprint/Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Five friends. An absentee father who’s a billionaire. One nefarious plot.
Nari is a genius digital hacker. Keagan is her sweet boyfriend who would follow her anywhere. Reese is a visual artist who dreams of traveling everywhere. San is headed to Stanford on a diving scholarship and wants to go to the Olympics. And Bellamy is a physics genius who gets into MIT—then finds out the father she’s never seen is a billionaire, destroying her hopes of financial aid.
Nari’s not going to let her best friend’s dreams be destroyed by some jerk who wants nothing to do with her, so she comes up with a plan: hack into Bellamy’s dad’s computer empire and plant a code that skims enough money off millions of transactions to pay for Bellamy’s first year of college.
What could possibly go wrong?
This group of characters was fascinating. A group of individuals who form a fantastic team with an unbreakable friendship. I did not entirely care for Nari, who was very bossy and demanding (autocratic comes to mind), but I loved the rest—especially Reese and her vibrant hair. The relationships were complex and believable, and Keagan was my favorite character: he’s the voice of reason, as well as being the lone “ordinary” soul in the group. Definitely a good read.
Lillian Clark grew up in Wyoming and now lives in Idaho. Immoral Code is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Random House Children’s/Knop Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Rasmira is her father’s heir and has trained her whole life to be a warrior. She’s nothing like all her sisters, and her mother hates her, so she spends her days honing her skills. To become a warrior, she must pass a trial in front of the entire village. When an unthinkable betrayal results in her failing the trial, the only way to redeem herself is to go into the wild and kill the god that has plagued her village for generations.
In the wild she meets Iric and Soren, banished from their own village for failing their trials; Iric because he was never meant to be a warrior and Soren so he could protect Iric. Rasmira has never trusted anyone in her life—except her betrayer and look how that turned out—so she tries to avoid the two, but soon finds herself working with them as all three seek to accomplish their impossible tasks.
But killing a god is no laughing matter, and Rasmira will need every trick at her disposal if she’s to win.
This was an excellent read! Rasmira was a character I connected with immediately, and I took her betrayal so personally. She’s tough and doesn’t want to trust anyone, but Iric and Soren slowly worm their way past her defenses. I loved the character growth of all three and enjoyed watching their different relationships mature and shift.
Tricia Levenseller is from Oregon. Warrior of the Wild is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column in 1887 Paris. It’s her job to tell about each day’s new arrivals to the morgue, which the citizens of Paris are fascinated with. It’s morbid, but it’s just a job, until the day Nathalie sees a vision of the murder of the body before her…from the perspective of the murderer.
When the body of another woman is found a few days later, all of Paris is talking about it—and speculating it won’t be the last. Nathalie’s visions may be the only way to help find the killer, but can she figure out who the murderer is before her own life is forfeit?
This wasn’t a bad read. The premise is unique, but I found it a little erratic. Sometimes, Nathalie seemed very childish and naïve—who wanders around a busy city alone when they are the target of a serial killer? And who would go into the Parisian Catacombs like that, especially? I liked the concept, but the execution could use a little bit of polishing.
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MA degrees in European History, and an MBA. Spectacle is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Tor Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Hannah should not be institutionalized. Her roommate at an intensive study program, Agnes, fell out a window and was severely injured, but Hannah had nothing to do with it. She and Agnes were friends—best friends—even though Hannah was hooking up with Josh, Agnes’s boyfriend, on the side. But she’d never hurt Agnes.
Her parents are off to Europe, as usual, so Hannah decides to play along with Dr. Lightfoot so she can get out of here and back to her life. School’s about to start, and she can’t afford to be late with her college applications. Hannah is on her best behavior—but nothing seems to make an impact on the doctor until Hannah’s roommate, Lucy, arrives.
With Lucy’s help, Hannah can prove to Dr. Lightfoot that there’s nothing wrong with her, nothing at all, but Lucy will show her truths she never imagined.
Hannah is an unreliable narrator at best, but her story and the way her mind worked drew me in immediately. I knew there was something else going on here, but only started getting glimpses of what that was about halfway through. In the end, the book wasn’t what I expected at all, but I was enthralled.
Alyssa B. Sheinmel was born in California and grew up in New York. A Danger to Herself and Others is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Abby is 17, new to town, and she and her family are living on the streets as a result of her mother’s bad decision. They had to leave Omaha behind because of the backlash—and the friends who abandoned them.
Now they’re ready to make a fresh start. Abby dreams of having a boyfriend, going to college, and a career in music, but the winter is bad, and they never know where their next meal is coming from. Her stepfather is having trouble finding a job. Her mother is similarly out of luck. Abby’s family needs help, but she’s afraid to tell her new friends the truth, after the devastation of losing all her friends at her old school.
Roam was a difficult book to read. The subject matter is heavy—and sad. I cannot imagine being homeless, much less homeless with two kids. Abby is a strong person, but guarded, after everything she’s been through. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest thing to do.
C.H. Armstrong holds a B.A. in Journalism, and lives in Minnesota. Roam is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Central Avenue Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Sophie loves living in a small town. She has her four best friends, marching band, and the Yum Yum Shoppe and its fourteen flavors of ice cream. She also has a few regrets, but she tries not to let them get her down. This year, she just wants the band to be able to march in the Rose Bowl parade, and she’s ready to go all-out to make sure that happens. Even if that includes a social media campaign to the country star who is from their small town.
When August moves in down the street, he’s determined to keep everyone at arm’s length, especially Sophie, but soon he’s hanging out with her friends and joining the social media campaign. Her friends aren’t sure he deserves a permanent spot in the group, but August makes a home for himself there—if he’s willing to claim it.
I enjoyed this light, funny read, but it does have some deeper themes as well. Sophie is good at pushing the bad stuff to the back of her mind, but sometimes you just have to face things. August prefers to expect the worst—and not to bother hoping for the best. The friendships in this story are so realistic: good, bad, at times ugly. I’d love to hang out with these people.
Emma Mills lives in Indianapolis. Famous in a Small Town is her newest novel.
(Galley provided by Henry Holt & Company in exchange for an honest review.)