Greywaren

by Maggie Stiefvater
First sentence: “At the beginning of this story, years and years ago, two dreamers arrived at paradise.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: Call Down the Hawk, Mister Impossible
Content: There is violence (the body count is high) and swearing, including multiple f-bombs. It’s in the Teen section (grades 9+) of the bookstore.

Stiefvater starts “Call Down the Hawk’ thus: “This is going to be a story about the Lynch brothers.” Lest you forget and think this series is about Ronan (or Ronan and Adam) or Bryde, or Hennessey or Jordan, or any of the other characters that weave in throughout the series, at its heart, this is a story about the Lynch brothers. It is a story about family – the family of origin, yes, and how it became that way – but also found family. It’s about sticking together through any odds and letting go when you need to. It’s about art and the power that it has – in this world, literally – but also the way it touches all lives. it’s about relationships between people who are different and the same, sometimes literally the same. It’s about forgiveness and acceptance. It’s about so much, all packed into a story about preventing the end of the world and figuring out one’s role in it. It’s about choices and the consequences of those choices.

But most of all it has a heart that is so, so big. Yes, I cried when it was over because it moved me in ways that I didn’t think I could be moved. My life is so vastly different from the Lynch brothers (obviously), and yet the themes are universal. It’s a more mature book than I think Stiefvater’s younger readers will realize, and I appreciate the way these books – beginning with the Raven Boys – grew up over time.

I am sad to see them all go, but I am glad that they went out this way It was a perfect ending.

Bloodmarked

by Tracy Deonn
First sentence: “My veins burn with the spirits of my ancestors.”
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Others in the series: Legendborn
Content: There is swearing, including multiple f-bombs, and a lot of violence. It’s in the Teen section (grades 9+) of the bookstore.

We pick up where Legendborn left off, so spoilers for that, obviously.

Bri has been chosen as the Scion of Arther, Pendragon, who has woken up after 250 years. The problem is, though, that she’s an outsider (read: black) and the (white, racist) Order doesn’t accept her as what she is: their King. Instead, they gaslight her, drug her, and kidnap her, institutionalizing he. But, her friends are awesome, and they break her free and they all set about doing what needs to be done: training Bri how to better use her powers. This involves meeting new people, facing new dangers, and unraveling a bit more of the corruption behind the Order. Also (and I think we knew this was coming) – there’s a nice love triangle between Nick, Bri, and Sel (the Kingsmage), which is very fitting for an Arthurian tale.

Oh, I love this series. I love the way it plays with race, expectations, and magic. I love the characters (I would do anything for Alice!), and I love the way Deonn has woven different elements – from Bloodwalking, to being marked by demons, to rootcraft, to the aether of the Order – together so effortlessly. The only thing I don’t like is that I have to wait at least a year for the final book in the series.

So much great here.

Heat Wave

by TJ Klune
First sentence: “Near dusk, shadows stretch like reaching darkness, the heat from the summer day like molten claws to the chest, digging into the beating heart of a city under siege.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: The Extraordinaries, Flash Fire
Content: There is an extended discussion of gay porn, how to have anal sex, and a very awkward sex scene. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore, but really needs to be moved.

We pick up with our illustrious heroes soon after the events of Flash Fire. Except Nick’s mom isn’t dead. Right? It’s all weird. Owen is back as a villain, and Simon Burke is the Big Bad – not only is he running for myor of Nova City, he wants to do away with Extraordinaries.

Underneath all of that Nick is trying to enjoy his relationship with Seth, and figure out how to be an Extraordinary. Plus apply for college. It’s a lot for a kid.

Honestly, while this was fun, and an okay ending to a series, it wasn’t my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because I wanted and lost the momentum I had between the other two, but even though I adored Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz and their very healthy relationships with their parents, I didn’t really like the book. Maybe because I felt like it took too long to get going. Maybe it was because I ahdn’t read the others in ages Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

Not Klune’s best book, but I am still glad for the LGBT representation. Not a bad book, just not for me.

The Marvelous Land of Snergs

by Veronica Cossanteli
First sentence: “‘Children need rules,’ stated Miss Watkyns.”
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Release date: September 20, 2022
Review copy snagged from the ARC shelves at the bookstore.
Content: There is some violence, but not really. I was telling someone at the bookstore that this will make a great read aloud but I have no idea if an 8-10 year old will want to pick it up Maybe the right 8-10 year old. It’s in the Middle Grae section of the bookstore.

Pip and Flora are orphans, who have found themselves at the Sunny By Hoe for Superfluous and Accidentally Parentless Children. They are not entirely happy there; the director, Miss Watkyns, is very strict and always going on about rules, and Pip and Flora are not terribly good at following them. until one day, when they are punished and then end up in the woods, and through a gate that was accidenally left over, and they find themseleves in teh land of the Snergs. Their guide, Gorbo, isn’t not terribly bright or put-together, but together they manage to get in a bit of trouble, meet the Snerg Queen and go up against a wicked witch.

No, it’s not a plot-heavy book though Things do Happen It really would make a delightful read-aloud to a 4-6-year-old, someone who doesn’t mind the low stakes and would be entertained by the silliness. Because it is sill. Not ad, just silly. The marketing material says it’s based on the original story by E. A. Wyke-Smith, which inspired Tolkien to write The Hobbit, so there is that. IT does feel like something from the 1920s, with its Capital Letters and morals (but not terribly heavy-handed morals). Even so, I found it delightful. Not deep, but entertaining.

Which is probably all I really needed.

Nona the Ninth

by Tasmyn Muir
First sentence: “In the dream, he told her the words about where he took his degrees his postdoc, his research fellowship.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: September 13, 2022
Review copy snagged from the publisher when it came in.
Others in the series: Gideon the Ninth Harrow the Ninth
Content: It’s violent and sweary. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.

Things you should know:

  1. It’s MUCH better if you read Gideon and Harrow right before reading this one. Seriously. I spent so much time trying to remember things, I finally gave up, found a Wiki, and spent time looking up things to remind myself. If you remember stuff from the previous two books, you will better understand and grasp what is going on in this one.
  2. It’s the …. cheeriest? possibly.. of the three so far. Nona is an endearing character and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her, Pyrrha, Cam, Palamedes, and all the new characters we met.
  3. I have no idea what the heck happened in the last 1/4 of the book, and I’m not sure I care that I didn’t know. Truthfully: upon reflection, all the pieces were there, I just didn’t catch them. (See, #1.)
  4. Muir blew my mind in the best. way, and I am utterly impressed with her world-building, with her character development, and just the way this story is unfolding.
  5. Bring on Alecto. I can’t wait to see how this ends.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

by T. Kingfisher
First sentence: “There was a dead girl in my aunt’s bakery.”
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Content: there is some death by murdering and mild swearing. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.

Mona doesn’t consider herself a wizard. After all, all she does is small magic – like make bread rise or gingerbread men dance. But when a girl turns up dead in her the kitchen of her aunt’s bakery, she soon discovers that someone is out to get her (and all the other people who do magic in her town). And, since now of the adults in Mona’s life seem to be doing anything, she and her friend (the brother of the dead girl) soon decide to challenge the powers that be and make someone listen.

People have been recommending this to me for a while now, and I guess I just felt that Now was the time to read it. I mean, who doesn’t love a possibly sentient sourdough starter named Bob? But it was also more than that: it was about inclusiveness, about finding one’s power, even if you think it’s small, and about making and keeping friends. It’s very sweet I get why Kingfisher self-published it: it’s not really an adult book, but it’s not really a YA one either. it sits in that publishing no person’s land, where if you like the sort of thing – baking, slight mysteries, magic, etc – you’ll probably love this book.

I fell on the love it side, and I don’t regret that at all.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

by Axie Oh
First sentence: “The myths of my people say only a true bride of the Sea God can bring an end to his insatiable wrath.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s some violence. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Mina is just a girl in a village, one who was never supposed to be given as the Sea God’s brie But when her brother’s beloved, Cheong, was chosen for the sacrifice, Mina knew she must do something to save her brother’s happiness. So, she jumps into the sea, sacrificing herself in Cheong’s stead. what she finds in the Sea God’s kingdom is a whole world of gods and demons, of betrayal and friendship, and a puzzle as to what will wake the Sea God.

This is not something I would have picked up on my own, but a customer I really like gave it to me, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. It was a bit too formulaic for my tastes (I guessed the twist ending) but Oh’s writing was evocative, and it wasn’t a bad story. There were some genuinely tender moments, and I did like the tales that Oh spun.

Give this one to kids who like fairy tales.

Spear

by Nicola Griffith
First sentence: “In the wild wast, a girl, growing.”
Support your local independent bookstore: by it there!
Content: There’s some violence and off-screen sex. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.

One of my co-workers sold this to me by saying “It’s Arthurian legends, but gay” and honestly, that’s all it took. Griffith is taking the world of King Artur, planting it in 6th-century Wales, and making one of the knights, Peretur (or Percival) a woman. It’s familiar (to those of us who have gone through Arthurian obsessions), and yet, it’s also new. Making Peretur a woman updates the myth without sacrificing its ancient origins. I adored Peretur, and the journey she went on, from growing up in the wild with her mother to her quest to become a knight of KIng Aruthur. Her kind heart and fierce nature were balanced so well. I felt that Griffiths’ writing gave the book an ethereal quality, making it seem like a story that’s being told around a fire. It’s short, so I felt like Griffiths was able to get to the heart of the matter, without there bieng a lot of extra.

In short, It was exactly everything I wanted from an Arthurian tale.

Forging Silver Into Stars

by Brigid Kemmerer
First sentence: “This was supposed to be a peaceful protest.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series (sort-of; it’s a spinoff, but reading these helps):  A Curse So Dark and LonelyA Heart So Fierce and Broken, A Vow So Bold and Deadly
Content: There is some violence and off-screen sex. It’s in the Teen section grades 9+) of the bookstore.

So you know: this book picks up four years after the events in “A Vow So Bold and Deadly”. There will probably be spoilers for the first series.

Friends Jax and Callyn live in a small village, a few hours outside of the main city in Syhl Shallow. They’re just a blacksmith and a baker and are a bit wary of the idea of magic being in their country in the form of the king. so, when an opportunity to earn some silver ones their way, they jump at the chance. Little did they know they were getting into an organized insurrection, one that was determined to overthrow the king. There’s more to the story, one that involves Tycho, who is a friend of the king and a courier between Syhl Shallow and the neighboring country of Emberfall. There’s also some romance, betrayal, and a lot of riding horseback through the country.

I didn’t dislike this book, but I didn’t absolutely love it either. Kemmerer has a good storyteller, but maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this. Even so, i might be interested enough to finish the story when th enext book comes out.

The Honeys

by Ryan La Sala
First sentence: “My sister wakes me with a whisper.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: May 3, 2022
Content: There is swearing, including multiple f-bombs, and descriptions of sexual assault and rape. It will be in the Teen (grades 9+) section of the bookstore.

Mars is a twin, the undesirable twin, the one who lives in the shadow of Caroline, the Chosen One. He/they is gender fluid, doesn’t quite fit the norms of the rich, societied life his parents set out for him. Especially when it comes ot the summer camp, Aspen. Mars had a falling out years ago at the camp, when he pushed back against the gender norms and roles at the camp and hasn’t been back since. So when his sister unexpectedly shows up in the middle of the night, crazy and delious, attempting to kill Mars and then dying herself, he knows something is up. And that something has to tdo with the Honeys.

The Honeys, as he finds out when he goes back to Aspen, are a clique of girls, set apart, yet welcoming to him. At first, seems heavenly, to be accepted and understood by people who also knew and loved Caroline. But the farther he gets in, the more sinister it becomes.

I really had no idea what to expect when starting this. There’s a lot about bees and the way the hive works (most of which I knew from reading The Bees). But it’s also about societal expectations and the ways in which conforming to those hurts individuals. I have a theory that the hive/honey is Capitalism, but it could also be greed and power, both of which teen girls, even white ones from weathly families, have little of. It’s a fascinating study of groupthink and the power of suggestion, and how sometimes good things go bad.

I don’t know if it’s a book for everyone, but it’s a good book, one that will lead to fascinating discussions. I will be thinking about it for a while.