Sidenote: If I can offer any personal advice, it would be to take as many trips to see loved ones and as many photos as you can. Recently put together my dad's remembrance video and was surprised by how few photos I had with him (tons with the kids, though, which I'm grateful for). Even candids if you are like me and dislike posing for pics. End of my two cents on that topic.
Read on to get to the fun stuff - good books!
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
I'm a sucker for stories about fairy tales & legends. Love them. This book starts in the town of Near. The whole town is cut off from the outside world, so it starts out claustrophobic and gets more so as bad things start happening. Lexi feels trapped and alone. She's still struggling with her father's death and she is unhappy that everyone expects her to be a "proper girl" and not a hunter, but her father taught her to love and respect the moors and that is where she is happiest. Then she sees a stranger, there is a haunting voice on the wind, and children start disappearing. The town wants to find a scapegoat (and the stranger fits the bill), but Lexi thinks something else is at play, something having to do with the town's dark past.
Lexi teams up with the stranger and races against the fear of the villagers and time as more children go missing. I enjoyed following along as Lexi uncovered the truth. There is a sweet romance, a lot of good action, magic, and I liked the other characters (even the ones I loved to hate). I especially liked the quiet strength of Lexi's mother. Lexi's eyes aren't only opened to the town's secrets, she also learns and appreciates more about her mother. Recommended if you enjoy YA with paranormal and romantic elements.
Soul Thief (Demon Trappers book 2) by Jana Oliver
[I'm trying not to be spoilery, but maybe skip this review if you haven't read book 1 yet.]
Dark YA that is very close to being adult UF.
It's a middle book - middle books aren't really my favorite (I know they have to happen to bridge events from book 1 to 3, but they always feel so unfinished). You get some answers, but that just leads to more questions. I still like book 1 best so far. That isn't to say I dislike it - this is a good continuation of the series and many necessary things happen.
I like the world, the characters, the magic (we get to see more of the necro and witch world here). Loved Peter in this one, wanted to punch Simon (and alternately punch or hug Beck), shake and hug Riley (how much does this kid have to take!), and Ori, well, I'm just not going there yet. And the end is a non-stop ride of "Holy crap! What just happened?"
I got how Riley wanted to have things to do, was looking for anything and anyone who could be a distraction. If she stops moving, she has to think about everything that's happened and the upcoming Armageddon. The book starts the day after all of the events in book 1, so she's had zero time to adjust to anything.
I was reminded a lot of the episode of Buffy where she and Angel sleep together then he turns evil. Consequences. Everything has consequences. And everything is a grey area too.
I do like that balance was a constant theme here. We get to see more of the Divine, but that doesn't necessarily mean what you think it does. I do like the direction this is going, even though it is also gut-wrenching. Will be interesting to see how things come together in book 3.
The Game of Triumphs by Laura Powell
YA adventure with some action, some magic, lots of puzzling, no romance.
Young orphan Cat accidentally becomes part of The Game of Triumphs - this weird club where people get together, party, then pick cards and spin a wheel. The cards resemble tarot cards, and people call themselves knights and knaves. At first, she dismisses it as rich geeks playing strange games. She is also unnerved as she learns there are deadly consequences for some of the players. But then she starts seeing strange things, other worlds at times seem to be creeping in, and she meets another chancer (a person who enters the game by accident) who wants to team up with her. Finally, she sees something that hints to the Game's involvement in the death of her parents, and Cat now has motivation to understand the game and get justice. She meets up with other 3 chancers and they undertake a quest.
I really enjoyed this one. At first I was as lost as Cat when it came to how the Game worked, so it was nice to be able to puzzle through it with her. I liked the other characters as well - they are mostly caricatures, but you have glimpses of more depth. It was easy to get into the story, even though at first I was as clueless as Cat.
This is not a book where everything is wrapped up neatly for you. I was still satisfied with the ending, but you know the story is not over. Luckily we also have book 2.
[I received an advance review copy of this to review for Amazon Vine.]
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
It's a very fun read while you are in it. There is all kinds of crazy action, lots of descriptions of fabulous clothing and gadgets. Kind of a junior League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The thing is, you have to just go with it. If you think about the specifics too much, let logic come in, it ruins it all.
It's Victorian England and girls wear pants and short skirts with no one batting an eye. Fabulous inventions appear overnight. There is not one but two love triangles (although the angst level was still kept relatively low). You have rampaging robots, a girl who's all Jekyl/Hyde, a girl genius, a couple of psychics, an American gunslinger, a man who is more metal than he'd like to be, and against them a dastardly villain.
It's campy and overall was a lot of fun. There is a lot of character development that wasn't - all of a sudden you have a congruous team, but that was part of the ride. It was easy to get into and kept my attention. I'll check out the next one.
Sirensong (Faeriewalker bk 3) by Jenna Black
[If you haven't read books 1 and 2, don't read this review! I'm trying to be vague, but don't want to be spoilery!]
I thought that this was a very good end to the trilogy, and a good personal arc for Dana.
We get to see Faerie, there is lots of courtly intrigue, some romance, a lot of running, and all of Dana's secrets come out. I'm glad that the love triangle never played out. Everything is also not roses there either - Dana is unsure about her future with Ethan and I find that very realistic for a teen, especially one with Dana's past. I liked the interactions with the Wild Hunt, too.
Throughout the trilogy, she's been trying to save everyone - herself included. Dana has to face some hard facts in this one. She also has a lot of trust issues, stemming from growing up with an alcoholic mom. Book 1 starts with Dana running away to find her father to escape living with her mother, and in the hope that this act would shock her mother into admitting she has a problem. I really liked how the story came full circle. It is not all wrapped up in a little bow, but Dana has grown from her experiences. She's also sill a teenager - her life is not decided yet. She has learned that there are people that she can depend on, and that's one of the best parts of the book.
[She's a modern teen - I was very happy that it didn't end with everything being perfect and she's going to marry Ethan and live happily ever after. She still has her life ahead of her, and she still has room to grow. I found it a very hopeful ending. (hide