book review YA fiction

Cinderella is Dead

How many times can I say how amazing this story is? At least once more in writing, I guess.

If only this had been a September release, we would have read it in The Bookish Society YA round table.
I adore a good fairy tale retelling, and this is the story of Cinderella 200 years after she attended the Ball dressed by her Fairy Godmother. Every home in the Kingdom must keep a copy of the Cinderella story in their home. Then, there is still a Ball each year. This requires families to go into debt for their daughter to look good enough to be chosen by an eligible man. If they don’t get married by the third year, they disappear into servitude.

All that sounds awful enough and the MC soon finds out that there are more sinister goings on and a growing resistance to their dictator like king.
The world-building is sublime. The main character isn’t waiting around for the remarkably absent fairy godmother. She tries to change things- and she wants to be with a princess, not a prince.

Diversity: Black, lesbian main character, lesbian/bi side characters, and gay side character.

This is precisely the kind of book that we read and discuss at our YA Bookish Society Round Table. Teen Round table offers kids the chance to hang out with like-minded readers and have grown up style delving and debate.

book review YA fiction


The world-building in this young adult fantasy novel is just intense and all-encompassing that I genuinely felt like I could see it in my mind’s eye. Tarisai is the only daughter of someone called The Lady. Her sole purpose is unclear at the beginning and it turns out to boil down to complete obedience.

This is a fast read, and the whole time I was flipping pages, I wondered what would happen next. It’s one of those books where you want to know how it all wraps up without it being over.
If you are missing a magical universe, this may be your new favorite series. I’m suffering from a bit of a book hangover. The writing is just excellent, and the world is so vast. Don’t even get me started on the back story. chef’s kiss

I’ve never read anything inspired by West African folklore, and apparently, I need to read more about these types of fantasies becauseā€”I AM OBSESSED; from everything to the tutsu sprites, the Ray magic, the animals, the vibrant settings. Just. . . ALL OF THE THINGS. They were so beautifully written, and I felt like I was there; as if I could feel the warm breeze, and the aroma of the villages, and the spirit of the people.
This is one you won’t want to miss. I read this as an ARC, and my only small complaint is that there was no map to help me decipher the geography of this vast world.

book review YA fiction

The Extraordinaries

I read another of TJ Klune’s books: Middle Grade The House in the Cerulean Sea a couple of months ago, and I found myself just smitten with his writing style.

This is his YA debut, and it not only features superheroes in an urban setting. It contains some pretty “extra” teens. This friend group is precisely the one you’d want to go through high school today. This queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes that he loves captured my heart. Nick is a dork, his Dad is great, this book is both #ownvoices and #neurodiverse. Most of all you will laugh so much.

Parental Note: I’d say it is a story for older teens. Like, if you let them read Tumblr it’s fine for them. And this story is unabashedly pro- police. The police get in the way of the superheroes and are excused for bad behavior again and again. You can get some pretty good discussion fodder out of this, and I wouldn’t let it go without a discussion of Police in the real world.

And more good news, it’s the start of a series!!

book review YA fiction

The Princess Will Save You

A YA retelling twist up inspired by the Princess Bride is exactly what you need to be reading during these crazy pandemic days. Let yourself be whisked into the Kingdom of Sand and Sky. When King Sendoa mysteriously dies his daughter Princess Armarande of Ardenia (love that alliteration) is compelled by law to get married or lose the crown. She is only sixteen so this proves to be difficult to both accept as her father trained her to fight, not a figurehead.

The plot soon picks up speed and becomes exactly what fans of The Princess Bride enjoy: a journey to save her true love Luca filled with adventure and sword play!

This was a fun one for the YA reader in your world. It seems like the kind of book you either love or hate. I loved it. There isn’t much more to say after that.

book review chick lit fiction YA fiction

A Few More June Book Reviews

Was I looking for a YA mythological tale set in an alternate version of Portland, Oregon? No, but I found one I read this on my couch in June 2020 when every day brought new protests and revelations in the Black Lives Matter movement. I didn’t choose this book specifically for these times, but as fate would have it, I was reading it at the perfect time. I love the world-building and the mix of all the mythical creatures. Humans live alongside different creatures with varying degrees of acceptance. Most humans hate sirens (Black women with the ability to use magical calls on people with their voices), so our MC hides the fact that she is a Siren from almost everyone. The Audible version is fantastic. The two main characters voiced by different actresses are outstanding.

As another reviewer stated, this is ” Black Girl Magic,” not just another mermaid YA fantasy novel ( I would have read that too- btw) You can try and pigeonhole it into whatever corner you’d like. Still, I think teen fantasy readers will love it. June 2, 2020


This story turned out to be a timely read for me as I picked it up the week that all the George Floyd protests began. While this is historical fiction, the author brought her real-life experiences growing up in Chicago in the 1960s to the story. In nearly every way, it reads as nonfiction and is entirely believable. I don’t want to give away the story, but at the start, there are a lot of characters, and it can be confusing- stick with it, and it will more than pay off. (Adult or older teen readers-June 16, 2020)

I picked this up late and couldn’t even find the email of whatever publicist sent it to me. I did just buy a new calendar, so hopefully, I’ll get into the swing of 2020 soon… Anyhow, do not miss this book. It’s an adult fictional thriller that is so twisty, and un-put-downable (is that a new phrase?) that I used my 2 am insomnia time to finish reading it!!

This story is dark and gripping as the main character Jane is a psychopath. (That’s not a spoiler btw) it’s not too far in when she breaks the fourth wall to tell the reader:

“Stop it. Don’t look at me like that. Stop being so judgmental and listen to the story.”

I was left wanting and equally, not wanting to know what she would feel justified in doing next to keep close to her best friend, Marnie.

June 16,2020

book review romance YA fiction

Majesty: American Royals #2

In many ways, this was a perfect book two. I hope that this is just the middle of a trilogy, as there were a few storylines that were left unresolved by the end. I loved the first book and re-read the entire book before I went straight into this E-ARC (thank you, Net Galley, and Random House Books). In the first book, the plot was very Gossip Girls -ish with the different romances being key to the story. In this book, Bee is the Queen of America, and we see her mature into the job. I feel like this story is incredibly timely as it addresses Racism, the Press in this country, and women’s leadership roles. If you were all about the romance- don’t worry, it’s still ongoing, and all of the couples do some growing up before the end.
The history geek in me adored this alternate timeline of America. In this book, we find out even more about how it all came about, and I found it particularly funny that the characters looked down on the European Royal Families and their issues. If you gobble up news of the real royal families, this series is for you. Go read the first book, while you wait for September 1 to roll around.

book review YA fiction YA Non fiction

YA Review Bundle June 2020

The book you hand to your pre- teen or your grandma and both will learn in a non threatening ,super pink, and cute way. If all the confuse you ( I’ll admit to learn A LOT from this book) this is worthy of some shelf space at your house. This is the perfect time to read and discuss for Pride month.
I love books that take place in just one day. This story is perfectly timed to this election year, and I think many teens will be interested in the subject matter. I am all in for this trend. Voter fraud is something that young people need to be more aware of than ever.
In this story, Marva is voting for the first time. She has been prepping for this vote over the last two years and is educated on all the issues. Her friend Duke is voting for the first time also, and when she sees him get turned away from the polls, she steps in and spends the day going through the rigamarole that we call “adulting” in unraveling what he needs to do to cast a vote.
I’d happily add this to any American Government reading list for teens. This is a early July release.
Kit works at a thinly disguised Medieval Times type restaurant. Like most minimum wage jobs for young people it isn’t rewarding being a server, and girls aren’t allowed to be knights in the show. Until one day when Kit changes things. Other reviews thought this was pretty formulaic and I disagree wholeheartedly. I love the YA trope (?) of girl power.
I’m feeling all the feelings after finishing this one. Sixteen year old Johanna lost her Mom at an early age and then her Dad took off too. Luckily she had a set of grandparents to raise her. When she finds out that she killed her Mom with a gun as a young child it sets her spinning. I liked that her boyfriend was supportive and steady for her as she processed all her emotions and that a YA book is tacking gun control in such an honest and non hyped way. Five stars.

book review YA fiction

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I like to think of myself as a reader who also reviews books. Therefore, this book existing in any way, makes me happy. It’s not that I love Panem or their ideas. I do like the feeling of sinking deep into a world that is already familiar. I have purposefully not read any reviews of this title, so I have no idea of I’m going against the grain or not.
I read a lot of comments before the release, which complained that this title centers on the early life of eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow. Instead of say, a good guy. No person alive or fictional lives in a vacuum. If you want to understand The Panem of The Hunger Games Era, then you’ll need to see inside it’s past. I won’t post any real spoilers- but I will provide general non-spoiler plot points below.
At this point in his life, he is living in the Capital, pretending to be something he is not. He is already a man filled with ambition and is prideful of his family heritage. His family, though, has fallen on hard times and he doesn’t have enough to eat, worries about paying their taxes, and thinks that if he can just make it into the University, he will be on the path to success and put The Snow Family back in good standing. At the start of the book, the reader isn’t supposed to “like” him, but you can already see why, as an adult, he is the way he is.
By the end of the story, you won’t like him as his circumstances and choices prove that he is well on his way to transforming into President Snow that we loathe. You’ll also get answers to many of the pesky mysteries that were never entirely explained before.
The War was ten years ago, and Snow and his classmates were about eight years old at the end of it. They and the tributes were children during the War, and none of them remember anything other than the life they lead now and the trauma of war times. The senior student class of District One becomes the first set of mentors, and the story takes us through the games that year. The game making industry is in its infancy, along with all the bioengineered animals that we know already.
We also get a view into the districts- especially district twelve.

The minute I finished this book, I wanted to reread the trilogy. If you haven’t read The first three books, I wouldn’t until you start here. I think the author/publisher was correct in naming this book zero. I’m so intrigued that I’d even read a Book -1 that centered on the War and how it all began.

Graphic Novel YA fiction

Lost Carnival

Before he met Batman, Dick Grayson discovered the power of young love–and its staggering cost–at the magical Lost Carnival.

Haly’s traveling circus no longer has the allure of its glamorous past, but it still has one main attraction: the Flying Graysons, a family of trapeze artists featuring a teenage Dick Grayson. The only problem is that Dick loathes spending his summers performing tired routines for dwindling crowds.
When the Lost Carnival opens nearby and threatens to pull Haly’s remaining customers, Dick is among those drawn to its nighttime glow. But there are ancient forces at work at the Lost Carnival, and when Dick meets the mysterious Luciana and her nomadic family, he may be too mesmerized to recognize the danger ahead.

Beneath the carnival’s dazzling fireworks, Dick must decide who he is and who he wants to be–choosing between loyalty to his family history and a glittering future with new friends and romance. Writer Michael Moreci and artist Sas Milledge redefine Dick Grayson in The Lost Carnival, a young adult graphic novel exploring the power and magic of young love.

DC Comics May 5, 2020

What did I think?

If you loved The Night Circus this will be in your wheelhouse. Or the wheelhouse of any reader who loves Robin. There are a few nods to Batman, but this is a stand alone Middle Grade series centering on Dick Grayson and I am all in. I love that DC has these new series, it can be intimidating to begin reading a well known and loved series and this lets kids (and adults!) start at the beginning.

I’m hoping to obtain this beauty IRL, I adore Art Deco and this is the kind of cover that would be face out on my shelves. In fact, all the artwork is beautiful, I especially enjoyed how the artist used a different color palette with each circus. (Yes, there are two) This glimpse into Dick’s life as a teenager is an awesome origin story. Even if you don’t know much about Batman you’ll want to continue into the next volume for sure.

I’m giving this one 4 1/2 stars.

book review Graphic Novel YA fiction

Gotham High

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex and Eliza and The Witches of East End comes a reimagining of Gotham for a new generation of readers. Before they became Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker, Bruce, Selina, and Jack were high schoolers who would do whatever it took–even destroy the ones they love–to satisfy their own motives.

After being kicked out of his boarding school, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to find that nothing is as he left it. What once was his family home is now an empty husk, lonely but haunted by the memory of his parents’ murder. Selina Kyle, once the innocent girl next door, now rules over Gotham High School with a dangerous flair, aided by the class clown, Jack Napier.

When a kidnapping rattles the school, Bruce seeks answers as the dark and troubled knight–but is he actually the pawn? Nothing is ever as it seems, especially at Gotham High, where the parties and romances are of the highest stakes … and where everyone is a suspect.

With enchanting art by Thomas Pitilli, this new graphic novel is just as intoxicating as it is chilling, in which dearest friends turn into greatest enemies–all within the hallways of Gotham High!

DC Comics April 7, 2020

What did I think?

I was nearly jumping up and down when I opened this package from DC comics. I’m pretty psyched about getting the chance to review this new series.

I loved that this series includes diversity and that while the story line is familiar it’s not predictable. I was hooked from the premise alone – putting the Joker, Batman, and Cat Woman all in the same high school. This is the be all end all of origin stories. It’s not just their personalities that have them end up as super heroes or super villains, it’s the circumstances of their upbringing and social status that tip the scales one way or the other.

YA author Melissa de la Cruz knocked this story out of the park. She shows how wealth and jealousy can bring out the worst in people. Artist Thomas Pitilli delivers with art that captures the story honestly, and with picture perfect clarity of the characters and their intentions.

This is a YA graphic novel series that I think both teens and adults will enjoy.