Maya didn’t want to move halfway across the country right before senior year. She didn’t want to leave her school for the deaf for a hearing school, either. She wants to go into the medical field, so she needs the grades to do that, and she’s determined to get them. She’s happy being deaf, but Engelmann High has never had a deaf student, so some of the students don’t know what to make of her.
Beau is the student body president and resident overachiever, so Maya is wary when he starts learning sign language, but it’s nice to be able to talk to someone instead of lip-reading. Maya never thought a deaf/hearing relationship would work, but she’s happy with Beau. Until he starts encouraging her to get a cochlear implant, and she begins to wonder why he doesn’t accept her for who she truly is.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read any book from a deaf person’s point-of-view, so this was eye-opening. So many “little” things I never considered have a huge impact on Maya’s life. She is such a strong, determined character with a solid sense of identity, and she’s determined to make those around her accept her for who she is—not who they wish she was.
Alison Gervais has an English degree she’s not sure what she wants to do with. The Silence Between Us is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Blink via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Franny, Court, and Mykal have been imprisoned for weeks on an enemy ship. Through their link, they feel everything the others are going through. As if being on the verge of death isn’t enough, they are also reeling from the knowledge that they are human. When a mysterious stranger shows up and offers them a way out, they are skeptical—but eager to survive. They agree to help but keep their link secret.
Stork won’t tell them much, just that there’s one way to save planet earth and the remnants of humanity. He offers tantalizing hints at the answers to all Franny’s questions, and she’s eager to find out the truth. But the truth behind their mission—to find a baby girl, the first of her kind, who can cloak and teleport planets—is far more than the linked trio can begin to comprehend.
So…I didn’t read The Raging Ones. (Not sure how I managed to end up reading the second book without reading the first, as that’s something I wouldn’t normally do.) I struggled a bit at the beginning, trying to catch up to the worldbuilding and what happened in the first book, but the story was compelling enough that I pushed through. The dynamics are interesting between the trio, and Stork is an excellent foil for the three of them. There’s lot of action and adventure here, making this a quick, exciting read.
Krista and Becca Ritchie are twins and bestselling authors. The Last Hope is their newest novel, the second book in The Raging Ones duology.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Annaleigh Thaumus lives a sheltered life at Highmore. Once there were 12 Thaumus girls, but since her mother died and then four of her sisters, things are grim in the home. Even more grim are the whispers from surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Her sisters sneak out every night to attend secret balls, but what is the glitz and glamour hiding? When Annaleigh starts seeing ghostly visions and a handsome stranger arrives, she starts to wonder if her sisters’ tragic deaths were really accidents—or something more.
The culture in House of Salt and Sorrows is vivid and imaginative, with hints of fairy tales and legends sprinkled about. I liked Annaleigh, but I didn’t connect with her as well as I could’ve. Some parts of this book were very creepy, and the myths and the gods were intriguing. I’d have to say I liked the culture itself—and the hints of the cultures of surrounding lands—the most.
Erin A. Craig lives in Memphis, Tennessee. House of Salt and Sorrows is her debut novel.
(Galley provided by Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.)
So…normally, I pick the top three books I read in a month. This time, that’s just not possible. Because I read some really good books in July.
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, by Bethany Turner. This was from my TBR pile, so I didn’t review it. What happens when a steamy romance writer gets saved and falls in love with a preacher? This made me laugh so much, as, apparently, Sarah and I were separated at birth.
Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin. This also didn’t get a review, as it was my cultural book of the month. Pride and Prejudice in a Muslim community? Yes, please! I enjoyed this immensely, and I loved the look at a Muslim community. And, of course, a good Pride and Prejudice retelling does not go amiss.
The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins. If i could physically give you a copy of this book—I would! I don’t even like small towns, and I’d move to Dove Pond. A librarian who hears books talk to her, a town in trouble, and the outsider who’s the only one who can save it. Please do yourself a favor and read this!
The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen. Have you ever read a fantasy novel that sucked you in from the very first page, that made the culture come alive, and had characters that lived and breathed on the page? This is that book. I’d have read this straight through except work. I could NOT put it down!
Fie is a Crow—a caste of undertakers and mercy-killers immune to the plague and despised and persecuted by society. When her band is tasked with disposing of two royal bodies, they encounter the conniving queen who plans to cheat them of their pay and cost them even more respect. But Fie thwarts the queen—and discovers the two royal bodies aren’t exactly dead.
Instead, the crown prince and his clever body double have faked their own deaths to escape before the murderous queen can kill them. If they can make it to their allies, they have a chance at overthrowing the queen. They strike a deal with Fie: if she sees them safely to their allies, the prince will protect the Crows when he’s king.
But the queen’s ruthless assassins are on their trail, and Fie might lose everything she cares about to fulfill the promise she made.
From the very first page, I was enthralled. I couldn’t put this book down, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve never read anything like this and found the worldbuilding both vivid and unique. The magic system was odd—teeth?—but compelling, and I adored Fie as a character. She’s tough and prickly and fierce, but she can, eventually, see reason. I fell into this world headlong and did not want to leave.
Margaret Owen is an author and illustrator. The Merciful Crow is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Henry Holt and Co via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Lanie loves horror movies, so the appearance of two ghosts in her room—from the 80s, clearly—should be something she enjoys. Except it’s not. Because the third ghost that appears isn’t quite so friendly…or so human. So Lanie does her best to avoid the ghosts—and the questions she has from forgotten memories of her childhood.
When she meets stoner Ryan in the library, she soon finds herself telling him all about the ghosts—and hatching a plot to figure out their secrets. But Lanie and Ryan’s questions stir up things that someone in her hometown would prefer to stay hidden, and soon the ghosts aren’t the only thing threatening them.
I’m not usually into ghost stories, but Specter was much more than that. I enjoyed Lanie’s personality—she did have a few moments that seemed a little out-of-character, but hey, she’s a teenager—and Ryan was a good foil for her. I found that third ghost creepy, but the way everything twisted together just made sense: the missing persons, the murder investigation, the past and the future. This is a solid read with a little bit of chills to it.
Katie Jane Gallagher is a life-long writer and an avid read of YA. Specter is her newest novel.
Evie doesn’t feel like she fits in. She comes from the wrong side of the tracks, so she doesn’t really have any friends. One night, when she’s running through the woods, she falls down a hole and finds herself—like Alice—in a strange world. An angry gnome gives her a compass stick, and Evie must use it to guide herself through the strange, mixed-up world where fairies bite, unicorns attack, and mermaids are evil.
I loved the concept of this book. It’s creative, and all the different worlds Evie travels through are intriguing. I especially like the giant world and the snow elves. Evie herself is erratic, though. Her internal voice sounds normal, but occasionally, she veers off into some backwoods/Appalachian hillbilly dialect and sayings that feel forced and unnatural after her mostly “normal” voice. And, her feeling of isolation because of her wrong-side-of-the-tracks background is the motivation for her flight through the woods, but it isn’t really touched on again. Once she’s fallen into Nevermore, it’s her against the world (literally), but it feels more like a series of obstacles without an actual plot or antagonist to give it focus. I did enjoy the different settings, but overall, this felt a bit unfocused.
Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore is the newest book by Birgitte Märgen.
(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)
Zack is a gamer. He’s all for adventure, as long as it’s from the safety of his own couch. Then the girl of his dreams walks into his life—in the mall—and Zack manages to stick both feet in his mouth instead of impressing her. Well, it’s not like he’ll have to see her again, right? His embarrassment can die, along with his dreams.
Except the biggest storm in Saskatchewan’s history has people trapped in the mall. Zack, his best friend, Zack’s dream girl, and a handful of others are trapped while the storm rages outside. The waters are rising, the winds are raging, and soon they realize they aren’t the only ones in the dark mall. Zack finds himself in the middle of a real-life adventure, pitting himself against the storm and the shadowy figures that threaten his group as he tries to win the girl.
I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews for this book, and I guess it depends on your expectations. I was expecting a quick, fun read with a bit of romance against the backdrop of a storm…and that’s exactly what I got. Zack’s a good character: he says the wrong thing without realizing, but he tries to do the right thing and puts himself before others. There’s even a couple of great scenes where he sets an example to some younger guys for how to treat women and people in general. The only thing that really bothered me was the tornado: I’m from Texas. Tornadoes here drop out of the sky without warning. They don’t loom for hours (I’m not talking about a tornado watch, where the conditions for one are good, but I mean an actual tornado is on the ground for hours), as they did in this book, so that was actually a deterrent and pulled me out of the story. But…I’ve never been to Saskatchewan; I don’t know how the weather is there. This is just my own personal weather experience.
Kristine Scarrow believes in writing as a healing art. She’s also a mother, an author, and a proudly hails from Saskatchewan. The Gamers Guide to Getting the Girl is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Dundurn via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Maia Tamarin works as a seamstress in her father’s shop. She’d love to become a tailor, but she’s a girl, so marriage is the only thing in store for her. Even better if her future husband is wealthy enough to help her family out of their poverty.
But Maia still dreams of making beautiful clothes, and when a messenger from the emperor arrives commanding Maia’s father to the palace to compete for the position of imperial tailor, Maia disguises herself and joins the competition, knowing she’ll pay with her life if anyone discovers her secret.
The treachery and lies in the competition are one thing, but Maia draws the attention of Edan, court enchanter, whose dark gaze sees everything. Maia’s final task is to sew three dresses: from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. Maia has no idea how to accomplish this. She just knows she must.
I enjoyed this book immensely! I like the Mulan-like concept of Maia disguising herself as a son in order to save her family, but this is its own tale. Maia’s battles are more subtle—and just as deadly—and the magic here is woven so skillfully through the setting and the characters that it all just worked for me. Highly recommend!
Elizabeth Lim graduated from Harvard and completed her graduate studies at The Juilliard School. Spin the Dawn is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Chris is the funniest, sweetest boy Cosette’s ever met. Despite the trauma he’s suffered, he still manages to brighten up everyone around him—even when he’s fighting a chapel full of demons. He’s exactly what Cosette needs in her life. He’s also a werewolf—and she’s from the Lunar Court, the only fey court with control over the werewolves, so she knows they can’t be together.
But when Chris goes missing, Cosette will do anything to find him and bring him home safely. Even if they can’t be together, she wants him safe and happy. She has no safety in her own life—not with assassins trying to kill her at every step and her mother trying to force her into marrying—but she wants Chris to have it. She finds Chris in the darkest of fey courts, where the truth is twisted and she can trust no one. It will take an archon to keep the two of them safe—and even that might not be enough to make sure everyone gets out alive.
I think I read the first two Alpha Girl books a few years back and enjoyed them but got distracted by something else. I need to go back and catch up. Lunar Court was a solid read, and I love the world here, combining my favorite creatures in intriguing ways. A solid, entertaining read!
Lunar Court is Aileen Erin’s newest novel, the eighth book in the Alpha Girl series.
(Galley courtesy of the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)