Review of One Was Lost–YA Survival Horror

To me, a three-day camping trip in the middle of the woods sounds like a nightmare under the best of circumstances. But in One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards, Sera’s senior experience field trip takes a far more sinister turn when she and three of her classmates wake up to find that someone has drugged them, been in their tents, destroyed their things, and left ominous messages written on their skin. Just reading the premise of this book, I knew it was going to be the kind of thing to keep me up at night. Continue reading Review of One Was Lost–YA Survival Horror

Review of Half Bad–Is He a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

Recently, I’ve started playing a game with myself where I pick a book on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list that I don’t remember putting there, find the audiobook, and dive right in without reading any descriptions or summaries. This was how I stumbled upon the book Half Bad by Sally Green. Half Bad is the first book in a trilogy, and from the cover you can kind of get the idea that it’s a YA fantasy with a male protagonist, but that’s about all I knew going in. As it turned out, I think Half Bad may be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year! Continue reading Review of Half Bad–Is He a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

Review of Seven Black Diamonds—A Tale of Faery Terrorists

Faeries and humans are at war in the newest series by young adult fantasy author Melissa Marr. If the author’s name sounds familiar to you, it may be because I’ve been raving about getting to cross swords with Melissa earlier this month at Glimmerdark. It might also be because Melissa Marr’s debut series Wicked Lovely was widely popular, and helped to push the niche genre of faery-based urban fantasy to the forefront. Now, Melissa Marr returns to faeries again, but with some striking differences from her earlier works. Seven Black Diamonds is the story of a fae sleeper cell sent to undermine the humans by hiding among them. Its sequel, One Blood Ruby, comes out later this month. Continue reading Review of Seven Black Diamonds—A Tale of Faery Terrorists

Review of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Miss Ella Rosenfeld has been committed to Auttenberg Asylum for her hallucinations of ghostly apparitions. But even more frightening than the idea of going mad is the possibility that the ghosts are real, and they are warning Ella about the fate that awaits her in the asylum. Ella’s first frightening night at Attenberg sets the scene for the rest of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel by Kristen Brand. When the author first contacted me to request a review, I knew from the subtitle that this book would be right up my alley. Ghost Machine flawlessly blends various elements of both steampunk and the gothic in everything from the setting to the style and characters. With two genres that are both known for their melodrama and tendency to go over the top, Kristen Brand does a remarkable job of staying grounded and keeping the all too common campiness to a minimum. Ghost Machine is a gem among the many self-published ebooks of Amazon, and I am grateful to the author for bringing this one to my attention! Continue reading Review of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Labyrinth Lost Review–A Bruja Bildungsroman

labyrinth-lost-coverAlex hates being a bruja, but after she accidentally banishes her entire extended family to the underworld, learning to control her powers may be her only hope of getting them back. After hearing this premise, I knew that Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova would be just my kind of book. Back in October, I wrote about seeing Zoraida speak at the Boston Teen Author Festival, where she discussed the recent release of Labyrinth Lost and how her cultural upbringing influenced the novel, particularly in her portrayals of magic and death. After getting my copy signed, I added it to the top of my to-read pile and soon found that it more than lived up to my expectations. Continue reading Labyrinth Lost Review–A Bruja Bildungsroman

Review of Ashwood–A Haunting Debut Horror

Ashwood CoverEvery time Willow falls asleep, she wakes up back in the twisted world of Ashwood Asylum. Her haunted dreams are the subject of Ashwood, a young adult horror novel by debut author C.J. Malarsky. I requested a copy of this book many, many months ago, shortly after it was first published in 2015. Now the book is being re-launched by Fantasy Works Publishing this week! The new paperbacks will be available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble starting on September 7, and you can even find some signed copies at Kinoyuniya NYC. The ebook will be available at Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, and Nook. Continue reading Review of Ashwood–A Haunting Debut Horror

Shadowshaper Review–Representation in Urban Fantasy

Shadowshaper coverThe murals are weeping. This is the first thing that tips Sierra off that something strange is going on in her Brooklyn neighborhood in Daniel José Older’s fantastic urban fantasy Shadowshaper. I’d been meaning to read this book since I first heard Older speak on a panel at Book Expo America last summer and its gorgeous cover kept staring at me from large, blown-up posters. I finally got a chance to listen to the audiobook, read by Anika Noni Rose, which I highly recommend! Continue reading Shadowshaper Review–Representation in Urban Fantasy

The Darkest Part of the Forest Review

“Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we’d be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?”

The Darkest Part of the Forest coverThese ominous lines by poet Kenneth Patchen serve as an epigraph to my new favorite faerie-based urban fantasy, by an old favorite author—Holly Black. You may remember my recent review of Holly Black’s morbid middle grade ghost story, Doll Bones. Well, Black has come back into the wonderful world of YA with one of her newest novels, released last year, The Darkest Part of the Forest. While nothing will ever replace vampires for me in the paranormal romance department (sorry, werewolves and zombies), faeries tend to come in second among my favorite supernatural creatures. Like vampires, they force you to confront the paradox of beautiful monsters. How can something so alluring be bad? And how can something so dangerous be beautiful? While confronting these paradoxes outwardly, the characters of The Darkest Part of the Forest also have to come to terms with the beauty and the monsters inside themselves. Continue reading The Darkest Part of the Forest Review

My Favorite Book of 2015: The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

The Raven Boys coverProphetic ghosts, kings from Celtic mythology, and our favorite gothic birds…what more could you want in a paranormal romance? Oh, I know, how about the threat of death should any romance actually occur. These elements and more are what made The Raven Boys, the first book in Maggie Stiefvater’s latest young adult series, The Raven Cycle, my favorite book of 2015!

Blue Sargent has been raised by a family of psychics who have been warning her for as long as she can remember that when she kisses her true love, he will die. This prediction has turned Blue quite off the idea of romance, and she is content to never kiss anyone. But then Blue, not generally prone to psychic powers herself, sees a vision of a beautiful boy dying. He is wearing the raven-emblazoned uniform of the local pretentious prep school, and he says his name is Gansey. Could he be Blue’s true love? Continue reading My Favorite Book of 2015: The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

This Monstrous Thing Review–Steampunk Frankenstein

Also, just look at this gorgeous cover art...
Also, just look at this gorgeous cover art…

When I was at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few months ago, I heard someone say the words “steampunk Frankenstein retelling” and my ears perked up. It turns out that person was Mackenzi Lee, author of This Monstrous Thing, her debut novel. As you may have noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of Frankenstein. So, intrigued by this description, I picked up a signed copy of Lee’s book then and there. Alas, it took me quite a while to get around to reading it, but I’m glad I finally did.

This Monstrous Thing is set in an alternate history, in which early 19th century Europe is hyper-industrialized and clockwork is the basis of new technology, from new modes of transportation to artificial limbs. Surgeon/mechanics called Shadow Boys fashion clockwork parts for wounded citizens. But while this technology gives crippled men and women mobility and hope, the majority of the population considers it an abomination. Clockwork men and women are treated as second class citizens, and the Shadow Boys who build their parts are in constant danger of arrest.  Continue reading This Monstrous Thing Review–Steampunk Frankenstein