Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
About: When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries. When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This book is seriously demonic and scary! Lukavics does not shy away from the gore and her story is so creepy it gave me goosebumps several times while I was reading it. I made sure to read it in public during the day, that’s how disturbing this is. Amanda’s character is conflicted and she is sure she is to blame for this serious evil that is now plaguing her family. The story juxtaposes the harshness of living in the 17th Century with this malevolent spirit that is haunting the prairie. Her family is isolated and struggling for daily survival. Add to that this supernatural presence and it is a page turner that will stick with you even after you finished reading it.
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
About: Andie Walker knows exactly what she wants in life. Her junior year summer will be spent in a pre-pre med program and she can’t wait. Everything is going as planned until her program is cancelled and she is stuck at home with her dad (with whom she has nothing in common). She finds herself looking for something to do and ends up working at a pet company where she walks dogs. And so the summer begins.
What I Liked: I loved her close knit group of friends. They definitely have their ups and downs throughout the story and it was all very realistic. Her relationship with her dad is strained, but slowly it gets repaired throughout the story. She finds a boy who she likes (a lot) and he is very different from anything that she has ever known. So many things get decided this spectacular summer. Andie learns that change can be both happy and sad.
Overall, this book is very slice of life and I totally recommend it for those who like to read books about friendship, love, relationships and dogs.
Written by: Yentl
God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya
About: Vivek Shraya’s first book is a collection of twenty-one short stories following a tender, intellectual, and curious child as he navigates the complex realms of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion, and belonging. God Loves Hair is a moving and ultimately joyous portrait of youth that celebrates diversity in all shapes, sizes, and colors. (SPL website.)
Stephanie says: This tiny collection is less “short stories” and more like miniature vignettes in the mind of a child aging into a teen. As a whole collection, it reads as though the author is writing scenes or tableaus that he later realized were critical in developing his singular personhood.
In the beginning, we are told of how the narrator’s mom barters with her Hindu God begging that if he gives her two boys, she will promise to give them their first haircut in the Temple of the Seven Hills in Tirupathi, India. In the Hindu religion it is custom to cut off your hair because it “pleases God because it means you have chosen Him over your appearance.” This negotiation is the seminal moment in our narrator’s journey as he seeks an understanding of himself as a gay, Canadian-Indian Hindu. The rawness with which Shraya writes about his awkwardness in this coming-of-age collection is painfully familiar to anyone who has experienced reality as a teen.
Airhead by Meg Cabot
About: Emerson Watts, or Em, is sixteen and does not care for fashion at all. When an unfortunate event occurs, she receives a transplant of sorts and she wakes up not knowing what they did to her. She finds herself right in the middle of the fashion world and she doesn’t know if she can handle it. The only thing she knows for sure is that Stark Enterprises is very suspicious and they cannot be trusted.
What I Liked: Fashion, mystery and science fiction are perfectly blended in this novel to create an exciting story. The characters that are introduced are very likeable, especially Cosabella ;). Em is funny and down-to-earth despite the circumstances she is thrown into. The story keeps getting wilder and wilder until it spirals into the incredible end. I was on the edge of my seat as I read through this trilogy. It is very funny and a must read! This book is followed by Being Nikki and Runaway.
How I felt while reading this: 😅
Written by: Yentl
And I Darken by Kiersten White
About: No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”
This book is *intense*. Not quite historical fiction, not quite fantasy, the pretty cover is misleading enough to make you think you’re in for a light-hearted read about a plucky young heroine. Lada is not that heroine. She is stubborn, always angry, and over emotional. She’s furious about everything that has led her and her brother to the Ottoman Empire. She doesn’t always make the right choices. But she’s bloodthirsty, and has enough training to take down anyone who tries to stop her from getting back to her homeland.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber – YA F GAR (Fantasy)
What It’s About: Caraval is a place. (There’s even a map!) It is also a game. And it’s a band of players led by the mysterious and somewhat sinister Legend. But most of all, Caraval is magic! Scarlett and her sister, Tella, have been requesting an invitation to Caraval for years. And at long last, one has finally arrived! The trick, of course, is how to escape their angry, abusive father. Tella convinces an enigmatic sailor (Julian) to whisk them away but even though Scarlett has been dying to go for years, she fears her father’s retribution. No problem! Tella and Julian simply drug her and sail away. But once they arrive at Caraval, things definitely do not go as planned.
Roben’s Thoughts: I devoured this book in five hours. Caraval has a little bit of everything – romance, mystery, and magic. Though you must always remember – people, places, and things are rarely as they appear – so the story definitely keeps you guessing. Who is Julian? Can Scarlett trust him? And if she can’t trust Julian, who can she trust? What has happened to Tella? Is she safe? Just keep reading and – most of your questions will be answered. J I liked Scarlett and found her struggles rang true. Caraval is the perfect summer read; a good book to “escape” into. Plus – it’s the first in a planned duology. So if you like it, there are more Caraval games and adventures to anticipate.
Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer
About: Through diary entries, reveals the life of Britain’s strong-willed and short-tempered Queen Victoria from the age of eight through her twenty-fourth birthday, up to her third wedding anniversary with her beloved Albert in 1843.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: I have recently been completely obsessed with Queen Victoria. It all started with the PBS Special, Victoria, which chronicles the early life of the young Queen. That got me curious, so I found this book and tore through it. There were several things in this novel that were portrayed quite differently in the TV show, so now I’m listening to a definitive biography so I can get to the bottom of it. I cannot get enough!
I liked this book because it keeps things moving even when there may not be much action. Victoria was an unhappy child, sheltered and completely cut off from society on purpose so that she would become completely dependent on her controlling mother. Lucky for us, Victoria had no plans to go along with mommy dearest and she went on to be one of the most headstrong, independent and decisive queens in history. This novel focuses mainly on the same time period as the TV show, which starts with her early teen years. It is the perfect subject for teens because it is filled with drama, betrayal and intrigue. Victoria was only 18 when she was crowned, so she was consistently underestimated. This is something I think many teens experience as well. While the book does a great job covering her life up to her wedding and birth of her first child, it ends rather abruptly in 1843 with a general happily ever after vibe. Victoria reigned until 1901, another 58 years, so there is definitely more to the story. Still, this is a great primer on her early years and paired with the TV show you might just find yourself as infatuated as I am.