Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Witty dialogue, loveable main character, and a killer plot!

Sal wants revenge for the death and destruction of their village and family, and the only way to do this is to infiltrate the Queen’s court by becoming Opal, a deadly assassin of the Queen’s The Left Hand (assassin group). To become Opal, Sal must go against other deadly killers to win the contest of assassins. I loved the smart, witty dialogue and layers to the main character’s personality. Overall I loved the story, the plot may seem complex but the characters are amazing, there’s depth, layers to the characters which I absolutely love. It’s been a while since I have really enjoyed a humorous, loveable and witty protagonist like Sal who has heart, the smarts and guts.

– NJ

 

Synopsis

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This book took me through a variety of emotions, one minute I’m laughing and another minute I’m angry and then sad. It’s a powerful and highly relevant read that explores prejudice, racism, coming of age and identity in the modern day through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Starr. This book highlights the complexity of race and identity, police profiling of African Americans and systemic racism experienced by African Americans. This book is deep, it goes to the heart of the issue, it explores gang culture and why it thrives. This book helps build empathy and is educative to those who don’t know much about the Black Lives Matter movement as well as a frank examination of different types of prejudices that exist today. The plot is fast-paced and storytelling is humorous and heartfelt with lots of pop culture references and relatable fangirl loves.

– NJ

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

One by Sarah Crossan

This is a must read for YA fans… I read this book in one sitting!!!

A moving and beautifully crafted story about identity, sisterhood and a love that ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

“One” is a story about Grace and Tippi, who are twins – conjoined twins and it follows their lives in high school as they have to decide whether or not to have the operation which will physical separate them.

I have always struggled to enjoy poetry but this book did the impossible. It made me love the poetry style with which this story is told. This story, and the poetry prose through which it was told, was a raw, personal story which had me feeling every emotion.

I loved this book and could not stop hugging this book after I finished the story.
-Amanda

 

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner

Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin Publishers

An interesting book that I flew through in a matter of hours.

What starts off with character profiling and world building, I thought this would be a crime/thriller – a case of ‘who done it’? – however, it sends you on a rollercoaster ride to something completely different.

The book is told in various perspectives however it focuses on Jazmin Little who has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared – however, Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground!!! Like she simply vanished into thin air!! Since Becky’s disappearance, the question remains – did Jazmin have something to do with her friend’s disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus? an infamous character you get to know as you read the book.

A short book approx. 215 pages, It had a futuristic Frankenstien vibe to this story. The characters’ voices were projected quite well throughout the story though some of the dialogue got a little annoying – I guess teenagers communicate a little differently these days. As the story goes on, I found myself turning the page wanting to know what happens next and where all of this “mess” was coming from. I can definitely see a sequel coming out of this one. I liked the plot and how we get to know each character by the page – the story isn’t an info dump, it progresses and the plot thickens at each turn. I recommend this to fans of YA Sci-Fi and Thrillers.

Special thanks to Allen dnd Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

How would you react if your father asked you to become a ghost bride? Would you agree if it meant a future of prosperity

This would have to be listed as one of my favourite reads for 2017!!!

Though ruled by British overlords in Colonial Malaya, the Chinese Malayans hold ancient customs, values and superstitions close to heart. Set in the sleepy port town of Malacca, this takes us back to the 1880’s and follows the story of Li Lan, our female protagonist and the daughter of a genteel yet bankrupt family with few prospects. Li Lan receives an unusual proposal from a wealthy and influential family – the Lims – who propose she become a ghost bride for their late and only son who recently died under mysterious circumstances. An ancient custom, becoming a ghost bride was said to placate a restless spirit and guarantee prosperity for the bride – but what happens when this restless spirit starts to haunt the potential ghost bride? What happens when rather than following regular protocols to rid a restless spirit from the human world, Li Lan embarks on a journey that leads her to a peculiar supernatural cross over.

Exploring old Malayan folklore, superstitions and intertwining of Malaysian culture with true historical events – this haunting, dark yet fascinating tale kept me turning the page to the very end! I was captivated from the first chapter and I strongly recommend this to fans of Frances Watts’ “The Peony Lantern”

Many thanks to Allen and Unwin Publishers who gave a copy to me as a prize for a competition I won.

This is one great book!!!

-Annie

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Two boys.. Two secrets..

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long

The writing style and characters in this book were both engaging. I found myself flying through the pages and getting lost in the story. It’s written in such a way that I deeply cared for many of the characters and cried a few times. The characters felt authentic and the story is full of heart.

Representation is important. I’m so happy to have read a book that is so rich and is a high quality YA novel.

-Amanda

Because you Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy Edited by Ameriie

An awesomely unique compilation of 13 short stories written by brilliant authors from around the world and collaborated with influential booktubers.

I say this is unique as these short stories are from the perspective of misunderstood villains and are written by fantastic authors as challenged by influential booktubers. What I enjoyed most about this book was the short stories that were entertaining as well as the short pieces written by the book tubers when they challenged the authors to write a short story on various themes. The pieces were that good, I can see these booktubers publishing their own books one day. This was one anthology I struggled to pin point a favourite as they were all pretty good, I also found it interesting to see a villain’s perspective as it gives you an idea as to why they were ‘tipped over the edge’ and moved over to the dark side. I would highly recommend this to fans of YA or if any of the noted authors are your ‘autobuy’ author, they wont disappoint in this fabulous compilation. Once again, I didn’t read this from beginning to end – I bounced around various authors starting with my favourites (lol). It’s quite different and a lot of fun to read!!

Edited by international popstar, now writer, Ameriie, the authors who teamed up for this compilation feature: Renee Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon. The Booktubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zo Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie