BOTM

Special Announcement: August Books for BOTM YA (& My Pick!)

This post may contain referral/affiliate links. If you buy something, I may earn a commission.

We are nearing the end of August y’all. And while that is sad, it’s time for more BOTM YA Picks! This can be the happy part of our day!

If you’re interested in signing up, please click the link below this paragraph! This month, new members can use the code: FLEX to join for $9.99 (33% off the regular subscription price!).

Book of the Month YA

Sci-Fi:

Mind Games by Shana Silver (Debut!)

Arden sells memories. Whether it’s the becoming homecoming queen or studying for that all important test, Arden can hack into a classmate’s memories and upload the experience for you just as if you’d lived it yourself. Business is great, right up until the day Arden whites out, losing 15 minutes of her life and all her memories of the hot boy across the school yard. The hot boy her friends assure her she’s had a crush on for years.

Arden realizes that her own memories have been hacked, but they haven’t just been stolen and shared… they’ve been deleted. And she’s not the only one, the hot stranger, Sebastian, has lost ALL of his memories. But how can they find someone with the power to make them forget everything they’ve learned?


Contemporary Fiction:

Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro & Emily Henry

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt. 


Contemporary Fiction:

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz (Debut!)

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time. 

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?


Historical Fiction:

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. 

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.


Fantasy:

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (Debut!)

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

My pick for August is: The House of Salt and Sorrows! I’ve had this on my TBR for awhile and I’ve been seeing rave reviews for it. My bookstagram friend and I are actually going to host a buddy read later this month pick. If you’re interested, please check out my Instagram for more information!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + mythology
Length: 377 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: June 28th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAITED THIS LONG TO READ THIS.

This was so good I didn’t even bother taking notes for it (like I do with most reviews) because I didn’t want to stop reading to make a note of anything major.

It’s simple. It was a great more youthful read.

I love Percy and Annabeth. I already know they’re endgame and I am so here for this development. It was cute because I felt like they were twelve, but never so immature that I was distracted by it. The way Riordan presented them made them seem like characters you could love and understand. I felt they were relatable in many ways.

There were a lot of twists and turns and the action kept continually flowing (not to mention the funny chapter titles). I was actually a bit surprised when it came out who was the current bad guy. I didn’t see it coming, which is always a nice break. I thought the gods were fun and found it whimsical to picture Poseidon in a Hawaiian shirt and Zeus in a suit.

Don’t take this short review as a bad thing, it was a highly enjoyable read that kept me interested and intrigued for book two.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult (leaning towards middle-grade) fantasy + mythology
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: never gory or overly detailed, knives physical, fire

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult fantasy romance
Length: Audiobook (to come out as a print book, expected to be 354 pages)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Audible Originals, LLC
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What if you fell in love with the one person you’d sworn to destroy? 

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom. 

But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. 

Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

MY NEW FAVORITE BOOK.

No really, I’m serious.

Without a doubt this is my new favorite new adult fantasy romance (ACOMAF holds the TRUE #1 spot, but this is what I’m going to obsessing over for awhile).

First, the ANGST between these two had me melting. I LIVE FOR ANGSTY ROMANCE. It’s an enemies to lovers trope with the crux being a marriage because of a treaty. These two have never seen each other and know very little (and incorrect) information about each other. And it creates this amazing vibe between these two. Lara and Aren that I am here for. ALL DAY LONG. This romance is slow building, tender, and intense.

This world-building was so cool too. We only got highlights of the two main kingdoms (Lara’s home, Maridrina & Arn’s home, Ithicana). But Ithicana is one of the neater fantasy locations I’ve read about. It has this huge bridge running through it, it’s made of islands. We have killer sharks and snakes roaming the sea and lands. SO COOL.

I knew the ending was out to destroy me. You could feel it in the air. And it did. Ugh, heart ripped out, knowing it had to happen to create book two. Am I happy about it? NOPE. Do I understand? Sure sure. I am even more excited for book two because reunion scene? Oh heeeeck yes.

Trust me. If you have any inkling about this book, read it. It is currently only on Audible but is releases as a physical book in August. I thought the Audible version was great though! I was enraptured by it and had no problems keeping up.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult fantasy romance
  • Language: some strong language + occasional crude language
  • Romance: an almost love scene (somewhat detailed), kisses, explicit love scenes
  • Violence: arrows, war, ship battles, shark attacks, snake bites, murder, poison , knives

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BOTM

Book of the Month YA: July Picks (& What I Chose!)

It’s July!

And that means new BOTM YA Picks! Here’s what was chosen in July and what I picked. At the bottom you’ll find a link for sign-up if you’re interested!


Fantasy:

Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho (Debut!)

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


Contemporary Fiction:

Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.
But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?


Romance:

Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

The youngest doctor in America, an Indian-American teen makes her rounds―and falls head over heels―in the contemporary romantic comedy Symptoms of a Heartbreak.

Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius―but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.

But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.

It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.

In her solo debut, Sona Charaipotra brings us a compelling #ownvoices protagonist who’s not afraid to chase what she wants. Symptoms of a Heartbreak goes from romantic comedy highs to tearjerker lows and is the ultimate cure-all for young adult readers needing an infusion of something heartfelt.


Magical Realism:

All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (Debut!)

Michelle Ruiz Keil’s YA fantasy debut about love, found family, and healing is an ode to post-punk San Francisco through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl.

Seventeen-year-old Xochi is alone in San Francisco, running from her painful past: the mother who abandoned her, the man who betrayed her. Then one day, she meets Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who lives with her rock-star family in one of the city’s storybook Victorians. Xochi accepts a position as Pallas’s live-in governess and quickly finds her place in their household, which is relaxed and happy despite the band’s larger-than-life fame.

But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert afterparty rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon a pair of ancient creatures devoted to avenging the wrongs of Xochi’s adolescence. She would do anything to preserve her new life, but with the creatures determined to exact vengeance on those who’ve hurt her, no one is safe—not the family she’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.


Magical Realism:

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms.

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping up around them—maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their pasts, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse.

My pick for July was: Wicked Fox! As someone OBSESSED with fantasy this book sounds so up my alley. I love that it has Korean mythology and think that is going to be so refreshing and new in the YA world. There appears to be some romance too, and we all know I love anything with a good romance. I am stoked to get to this debut novel and can’t wait to share my review with you!

If you’re interested in any of these books or signing up in general, please click the link below!

Book of the Month YA

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Book Review

Book Review: Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + mystery + historical
Length: 299 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre. 

LOVE THE QUIRKY CHARACTERS.

I feel a short and sweet review coming.

This was a simply Sherlock-esque book with some twists. I loved that Jacakby’s abilities allowed him to see all sorts of paranormal and fantastical things. The unique mix of creatures and monsters in the world kept me on my toes.

I loved having Abigail Rook as the POV. She sees Jackaby in a light we wouldn’t get from his side (and frankly, might be a bit scattered if we did, haha). She’s stubborn, insightful and easy-going. It was effortless to fall for these characters. Jackaby definitely reminds me of Sherlock and I laughed out a loud a few times at the things he would say and the banter between him and Abigail.

The mystery had its own enigma that even surprised me a few times. I was amazed that the entire 300 page book took the space of three days. It makes me curious for the rest of the series as to how they’re spaced out.

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle-grade/Young adult historical fantasy/mystery
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: descriptions of bloody murders, a few fight scenes with guns, physical and the supernatural

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Uncategorized

Book Review: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: YA Dystopia Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 473 pages
Author: Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic. 

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR THIS SEQUEL?!

Y’AAAAAALLLLLLLL.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED. Like Illuminae Files this duo has destroyed me. I buddy-read this with a Bookstagram friend and it was so much fun to go over things together with her!

This book is so good. I have no words.

I love this group of characters. Squad 312 is full of unique, emotional, interesting, creative souls. Everyone stands out in their own way and I love them all for different things. My favorite currently is probably Kal. I could go into a bunch of reasons for each character, but trust me, everyone has a reason to shine. The chapters rotated in a perfect way where the main POV was the right character to be observing from. This made the entire book soar.

There were so many twists and turns. Some you can pick out, others left me like WHAT. I’m still reeling from the last few scenes. Though, what’s really nice is that it doesn’t leave off on some major cliff-hanger. While absolutely crazy things happen, it also closes out the book. Leaving you begging for a time machine to get to book two.

The main antagonist is so complex. We only scratched the surface on what’s happening in the universe and I have so many theories. I love having theories about what’s going to happen.

A lot of relationships were thrown around and happened a little here, a little there, a maybe here, a maybe there. I think this nuanced banter and love was entrancing. Within all the action we got to the nitty-gritty of each characters flaws and dreams. Each one immensely different, but also intertwined.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopian sci-fi + fantasy
  • Language: a little (mostly phrases like son of a biscuit)
  • Romance: a no-details remembrance of a night together
  • Violence: physical, guns, magic

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Book Review

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Middle Grade/YA Mystery + Fantasy (paranormal)
Length: 381 pages
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: August 29th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud’s internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

VERY SPOOKY INDEED.

I read this book based off of a recommendation from Bookstagram, and it did not disappoint.

I generally don’t read much middle-school books unless they come highly recommended, I had seen this enough from her to know I must have it (even better, if you’re a Prime member, the first book is free on Kindle!). While they’re some YA aspects, it generally leaned towards a younger audience, yet I can see how it captivates older groups. It’s a really underrated book.

This group: Lucy, Lockwood and George are a hoot to watch interact. They have funny banter, quiet moments and are a great team. Lucy and Lockwood especially made this book. It was narrated by Lucy (which I wasn’t expecting given it’s called Lockwood & Co.). I loved the world-building and how *just* enough was left out to keep me interested for further installments.

The Screaming Staircase is CREEPY. This is honestly the closest I’ll ever come to a horror book. They’re ghosts that can do all of these crazy things (including kill you). Blood coming off of ceilings, things jumping out, it was definitely intense at times.

I liked the addition of a mystery within the paranormal activity. It made me more invested as I am weary of reading paranormal books. It was another level of intrigue and wonderment as I flew through this.

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle school/YA Paranormal Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: descriptions of murders, detailed hauntings, physical, swords, guns, explosions

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