Fresh Ink

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Editor: Lamar Giles

Genre: YA Fiction

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 208

 

This is an anthology that was written in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. It includes never before seen works from thirteen of YA’s most recognizable, diverse authors: ten short stories, one graphic story, and a one-act play. I am thrilled to have been allowed to early review this amazing collection of short fiction, that is just demanding to be read, shared, and talked about!

Let me just begin by saying- Wow! After reading the early synopsis of this anthology, and learning who the authors contributing to it were, I had high hopes… I mean really high. This blew them away! Every one of these short stories had something very important to say, and they all made their point in the best way possible. I may not have been able to personally identify with all of the characters in these stories, but the message of each was not lost on me. These authors are all so brilliant, that it is really hard to pick a favorite story out of this collection. If pushed to choose, I would have to say that Eraser Tattoo (Jason Reynolds), Why I Learned to Cook (Sara Farizan), Don’t Pass Me By (Eric Gansworth), Meet Cute (Malinda Lo), and Tags (Walter Dean Myers) really stood out to me. All of the stories were just long enough to pique the reader’s interest, tell their story, and then leave you wanting more. This is an anthology that has been needed for some time, especially in this climate, and I am so glad that it is here! It is bound to be a hit, and one that will last for a long time to come. Now…Can we get another one of these, please? Fresher Ink, anyone?!

 

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Passenger (Passenger, Book 1)

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Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series: Passenger Duology

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 496

 

Etta Spencer is a violin prodigy, determined to play her debut and make her way in the professional music world. In one night, everything that she knows and loves is ripped from her, as she is torn from her world and her time, and forced to travel years from her home. She didn’t even know that this was possible until her legacy was forced upon her. Nicholas Carter is living his life upon the open seas, free from a family and burden that have plagued him for years. The sudden arrival of Etta upon his ship, however, changes all of that for him. He must now journey through time with her to find a powerful object that this family believes that only Etta can find for them.

I decided to start the year out re-reading this fun novel that I read, but didn’t review, at the end of last year. I really, really enjoyed this story. The writing was beautiful. The character development was great. It was much better than I have been seeing in many YA novels of late. The world building was phenomenal! I felt that I was on the journey with them, and I wanted to keep going! Fortunately, I am about to re-join all of our players in the sequel of this duology, Wayfarer. You can look for that review to come sometime in February. One thing that I truly enjoyed about this YA was that, while there was a bit of a romantic element to the story, it wasn’t so heavy on the romance that it overtook the rest of the story. It also wasn’t an overly anguished YA romance, which was refreshing. If you enjoy time travel adventure in your fantasy, this is a great book to look in to!

Mask of Shadows

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Author: Linsey Miller

Genre: Fantasy/YA Fantasy

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

 

Sallot Leon, better known as Sal, is a street fighter and an excellent thief. Sal, however wants more from life than robbing nobles and fighting. In the midst of a robbery one day, Sal finds a flyer for auditions for the position of Opal in the Queen’s Left Hand- her personal assassins, named after the rings on her left hand, and decides to go for it. The auditions turn out to be not only training, but a fight to the death with the other contestants. This is a fight that Sal may not be prepared for, but is determined to win and get revenge for their country that was destroyed by the nobles that are in the capitol and the heart of Elise, who they are growing closer and closer to. Will Sal survive to live out this dream?

Guys, I finished this book, and immediately said that I needed more! Seriously, check my Twitter feed! This is that wonderful rare occasion where I have trouble believing that this is a debut novel. The characters were so well rounded and fleshed out. I absolutely loved that the main character, Sal, was gender fluid. It made this character all the more interesting, and definitely an underrepresented community that we should see more of. Miller writes characters that you want to become invested in. The world building was so lovely, and easily visualized. It had enough romance in it to add to the story, but not so much as to make it the focus. This is written as a YA Fantasy, but truthfully it is just a very well written Fantasy that would appeal to anyone looking for that type of escape. I can’t wait to find that escape again in the next installment!

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere, Book 2)

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Author: Heidi Heilig

Series: The Girl from Everywhere

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 464

 

This sequel to The Girl from Everywhere finds us once again aboard the ship Temptation, where it is now Nix’s turn to take the helm and try and change fate- this time the fate is her own and Kashmir’s. After everything that happened in Hawaii, the crew find themselves back in New York where Nix finds out that it has been seen that she is destined to lose her love. She can’t imagine her life without Kash, and is determined to find a way to change this destiny, when the possibility presents itself. Is it possible to change fate? What is she willing to give up to change time?

This is one of those wonderful instances where the sequel was as good as, or possibly better than, the original book in the series. Heilig’s writing is rich and captivating. Her characters, even the secondary ones, all have great depth. The world building is absolutely phenomenal. I would say that it is even better in this installment than it was in the first. I loved that this book had some chapters told from Kash’s POV, so we got an even better look in to his mind and thoughts. Although I have always been a fan of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genres, I have never been one to be caught up in anything involving time travel. This series, however, has grown to be one of my favorites. The only hesitation that I would have, is that this was originally slated to be a duology. The ending left it open to the possibility of further installments, though, if the author chooses to do so. I, for one, fervently hope that she does, because I would like to see the story go a bit further, and have some questions answered, before we call it the end.

 

Something Like Voodoo Blitz!!

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Something Like Voodoo
by Rebecca Hamilton
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton

High School can be a witch.

A teen girl with the ability to predict deaths through her drawings shouldn’t need to lie constantly to make her life sound interesting. But that doesn’t stop Emily from spinning stories faster than she can keep up.

After transferring to a new school, Emily’s ‘dull’ life is shaken by the appearance of a boy who seems unfazed by her far-fetched stories. A too-handsome-for-his-own-good senior, Noah has some secrets of his own. He needs Emily’s special gift to save him from Sarah, queen bee of the school’s It Girls, whose own supernatural abilities have forced him into a life of silence and solitude.

But when Emily tries to free him from Sarah’s voodoo curse, things go belly up, landing Emily on Sarah’s hit list. Soon, Emily and Noah are on a collision course with the It Girls, leading to a shocking revelation that ties them together in unimaginable ways. If their powers remain unchecked, this teenage popularity contest could spell the death of them all …

Romantically charged and eerily chilling, Something Like Voodoo weighs the choice of saving your life versus fighting for a life worth saving. This paranormal romance will put a spell on you.

 

Excerpt:

He was being tortured, but by what? And was I the only person seeing all these other things?

The scene flashed like a strobe light in front of me—a flash of the Noah I knew, then a flash of the painted Noah that made no sense. I scoured the room for someone to help, but no one else seemed to notice what was going on. Except for Sarah, her glower across the room turning to a maniacal grin.

“STOP!” I screamed at her.

The unexplainable vision melted away. Standing at the cafeteria doors, Sarah gave one last smirk before turning on her heel and walking away. A crowd of people hovered near us. The school nurse appeared next, hurrying as quickly as her short legs would carry her.

“Paramedics are on the way,” she said as she arrived, kneeling beside me. “Everyone, please, go back to your tables.”

When no one listened, she yelled, “Go!” This cleared away a few of them. I didn’t leave. Noah’s head still rested in my lap, his eyes closed, though he wasn’t convulsing anymore. His body had gone limp, the rise and fall of his chest nearly unperceivable.

“What happened?” the nurse asked.

Before I could answer, the EMTs rushed in with a stretcher. They pulled him away, yelling all sorts of things I couldn’t understand as they started performing CPR.

“Hang in there, buddy,” one of them said. He passed some small white tube-like packet under his nose, but nothing happened. “Can you hear me?”

No response. At this point, I thought Noah had stopped breathing, making me feel more hopeless than I’d ever felt in my life. What in the hell did Sarah do to him?

More CPR. More failure.

“It’s not working!” said the attending EMT. He put his ear to Noah’s chest then nodded toward the exit. “He’s breathing, but his heart rate is low. We need to transfer him now.”

And just like that, Noah was gone, flying away on that stretcher like a helium balloon in the wind.

Purchase:
(99¢ for 2 days only!)

 

rebecca-hamilton

AUTHOR BIO:
Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Horror, and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and four kids, along with multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently.

Rebecca Hamilton is represented by the ever-more-amazing Rossano Trentin of TZLA.

Author links:
http://www.rebeccahamiltonbooks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRebeccaHamilton/
https://twitter.com/InkMuse
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5295294.Rebecca_Hamilton

 

Three Dark Crowns

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Author: Kendare Blake

Series: Three Dark Crowns

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 398

 

Every generation brings a new set of triplets to Fennbirn; a set of triplets born with three distinct types of magic. This generation brought Mirabella- the elemental (and the sister considered to be the strongest in this generation), Katharine- the poisoner (considered weak, although the poisoners have ruled for generations), and Arsinoe- the naturalist (also considered weak, but possibly hiding a secret). Each of these triplets is an equal heir to the crown. The catch: they must fight to the death to win the right to rule. The fight begins the night that the sisters turn sixteen, and ends when only one sister stands. Who will rule this new generation?

This is a YA novel, that reads like the beginning of a good high fantasy series. It is layered with a huge cast of characters, that I was concerned may get a bit bogged down at the beginning. Blake, however, did a wonderful job of separating out the most important primary and secondary members of the cast, and giving them the attention needed to allow the reader to know them and formulate opinions about them. The world building was phenomenal, especially for the world that was needed in this novel. The story was very intense from the beginning. It did start out a bit slow for me, but it continued to build and got better and better as it went on. It ended on a fantastic cliffhanger, and I need the sequel right now!

2016 Wrap-Up!! Best of….

As we say goodbye to 2016, and usher in 2017, I can honestly say that it has been a good year in the book world! We have had some amazing books published this year, and some awesome new authors have emerged. We have also suffered some great losses. It was a wonderful reading year for me, personally, as well. I think that I read more this year that I ever have in a single year before, and I was introduced to some wonderful new authors that I look forward to reading much more from in the future.

I have taken the majority of this week to try and determine what was actually my best of this year, and I had a very difficult time with it! I had to break it down in to categories, because I wasn’t able to pick just one!

Here goes!!!

Favorite Overall Read of the Year: There was a tie in this category!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Blood Curse by Quincy J. Allen

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Favorite Thriller of the Year: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

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Favorite YA of the Year: Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Favorite New Author of the Year: J.D. Spikes

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I’m looking forward to an awesome new year with all of you!! I hope you all have a wonderful new year!! As always, thanks for reading!!

-T