Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Series:
 n/a
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication: October 16th 2018 by HarperTeen
Format: ARC

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

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Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Series:
 The Lady Janies #2
Genre: YA Historical, Retelling
Publication: June 26th 2018 by HarperTeen
Format: ARC

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

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Review: This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender

This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender
Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, LGBTQIA+
Publication: October 30th 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 304 pages
Format: ARC from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

Amazon || Book Depository

A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.

Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

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Review: Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee

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Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee
Series:
 n/a
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Publication: July 17th 2018 by Henry Holt and Company
Format: ARC (thank you, Macmillan!)

Everything in Emma’s life has always gone according to her very careful plans. But things take a turn toward the unexpected when she falls in love for the first time with the one person in the world who’s off-limits–her new foster brother, the gorgeous and tormented Dylan McAndrews.

Meanwhile, Emma’s AP English class is reading Wuthering Heights, and she’s been assigned to mimic Bronte’s style in an epistolary format. With no one to confide in, she’s got a lot to write about. Emma and Dylan try to constrain their romance to the page–for fear of threatening Dylan’s chances of being adopted into another home. But the strength of first love is all-consuming, and they soon get enveloped in a passionate, secretive relationship with a very uncertain outcome.

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Review: The Healer by Donna Freitas

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The Healer by Donna Freitas
Series:
 n/a
Genre: YA Magical Realism, Contemporary
Publication: October 9th 2018 by HarperTeen
Format: ARC (thank you, Harper!)

Marlena Oliveira has—mysteriously, miraculously—been given the power to heal all kinds of ailments. People around the world believe she is a saint. But her power comes at a price: she can’t go to school, she can’t have friends her own age, and she certainly can’t date.

Then she meets Finn, a boy who makes her want to fall in love. For the first time, she begins to doubt whether her gift is worth all that she must give up to keep it.

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Review: The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody

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The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody
Series:
 n/a
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Simon Pulse
Format: ARC (thank you, Simon!)

In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.

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Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

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A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Series:
 n/a
Genre: YA Fantasy, Retelling
Publication: September 25th 2018 by Imprint
Format: ARC (thank you, Imprint!)

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

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Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

dry-9781481481960_hrDry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Genre
: YA Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, Survival, Dystopia, Family
Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 400 pages
Format: ARC (borrowed from a friend)
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon || Book Depository

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbours and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

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Review: The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

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The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: YA Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Retelling
Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 384 pages
Format: ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★★☆

Amazon || Book Depository

A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory. Won in a major six-house auction!

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

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Review: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
Genre
: YA Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Magic
Publication: September 25th 2018 by Greenwillow Books
Series: For a Muse of Fire #1
Length: 512 pages
Format: ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon || Book Depository

A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from the acclaimed Heidi Heilig blends traditional storytelling with ephemera for a lush, page-turning tale of escape and rebellion. For a Muse of Fire will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, and Renée Ahdieh.

Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.

Heidi Heilig creates a vivid, rich world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. Her characters are equally complex and nuanced, including the bipolar heroine. Told from Jetta’s first-person point-of-view, as well as chapters written as play scripts and ephemera such as telegrams and letters, For a Muse of Fire is an engrossing journey that weaves magic, simmering romance, and the deep bonds of family with the high stakes of epic adventure.

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