Young Adult

B+
Waking Romeo

Romeo and Juliet – but in space, with the addition of some Wuthering Heights thrown on top of the pile.  That’s the theme of Kathryn Barker’s Waking Romeo, which plays with and modernizes the play’s tropes.  It’s dizzying, it’s messy, but it’s nonetheless compelling because it’s fu ...

B-
When You Get the Chance

When You Get the Chance is a cute, charming little novel that will work very well for younger teenagers; those aged between thirteen and sixteen should adore its fluffiness.  Older teens, however, might be bored by the story’s lack of complexity. New York native Millie Price wants to do one th ...

B
Cupcake

I’ve been reading YA books for years, but when my son morphed into a teenager and started dating, I opted out of any YA or NA romance. Because, eww. But he’s twenty-three now and living an adventurous life as a photojournalist, so I decided to lift the ban on kissy-face young adult and new adult ...

C-
Once Upon a Broken Heart

Is there anything more heartbreaking than discovering a book you hoped to love isn’t all that? Stephanie Garber is capable of writing a genuinely satisfying fantasy with sweet romance and a sense of magic. Once Upon a Broken Heart (OUABH for short, which I realize sounds like a shady agency from S ...

A+
Our Violent Ends

I have been blown away.  Chloe Gong set a high bar with These Violent Delights, a 1920s fantasy version of Romeo and Juliet which transports the story’s action to Shanghai.  Our Violent Ends is the first book’s equal.  Gong’s talent remains unstinting.  You need to read this book. It’ ...

A-
The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

After Mackenzi Lee’s Tulip Fever was cancelled in 2019 for multiple reasons, the author has returned to the familiar stomping ground of her Montague Siblings series. This third (and allegedly final) book in that triad focuses on the youngest brother, Adrian.  For those worried that the book would ...

B
Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls is a fascinating transposition of Jane Eyre to Ethiopia with good world-building and lovely prose.  But a sour male lead took this one down a notch or two for me. Andromeda, called Andi, is a debtera – which, in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, is an itinerant ...

C
Bright Ruined Things

Transporting Shakespeare’s The Tempest into a 1920s setting and retrofitting the story into one of an established blood family versus a found one is not an easy feat – and its one Samantha Cohoe attempts with limited success in Bright Ruined Things. The tension in the mystery plot is palpable an ...

A
Not Here to Be Liked

What’s that you say? YA is immature, and just for kids? Hahahaha! The protagonist of Michelle Quatch’s Not Here to Be Liked, Eliza Quan. isn’t sunshiny, but that shouldn’t prevent her from winning the school paper’s election for editor-in-chief, because she’s damn good at her job and ...

B-
The Last Graduate

Sci-fi/fantasy novels are often written to be read in sequential order and The Last Graduate is no exception. Because the books tell one long story, this review contains spoilers for the previous novel – A Deadly Education - pretty much from the first sentence on. El Higgins has successfully re ...