Category: teen

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo Review

Title: Somewhere Only We Know

Author: Maurene Goo

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Maurene Goo has long been on my TBR stack, since her first book came out. Unfortunately, I had to return both of her books to the library before I could read them. I’ve had Somewhere Only We Know in my library stack for a while, and once I realized that it had a hold on it, I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with Girls with Sharp Sticks. Romantic, hilarious, tender and thoughtful, this book melted my heart and then broke it, then put it back together again. It was like one of the best Korean romcoms, but in literary form. It turned out to be the perfect antidote to my emotional heaviness. It made me laugh, cry, giggle, and shriek. It reminded me of how much I love contemporary fiction. Maurene Goo has penned one of my favorite books of 2019, and I will never forget Lucky and Jack!

               What do you get when you combine a runaway Asian-American KPop star and a discontent expat living in Hong Kong? A recipe for hilarity, accidental romance, and more than a few hijinks. Lucky is the most sought-after KPop star in Asia, and despite her glowing success and the fulfillment of her dreams, something feels off. It doesn’t feel fun anymore. Discontent and hungry for an American-style burger, she wanders out of her hotel room and runs into Jack, who is taking a gap year from college and struggling to find his way and pay his bills. This chance meeting leads to all kinds of hijinks, and the two teens team up to have a dream day in Hong Kong. Will this meeting become just a memory, faded but remember fondly? Or will it lead to, dare I say it, love?

               This book; it was such a cute reminder of why I love contemporary fiction, and romance. Somewhere Only We Know was pure magic. I was immediately captivated by Lucky and Jack’s voices; they were each so distinct and unique. The pacing was breakneck; I devoured this book in half a day. It was charming, hilarious, heartwarming and tender. It was so thoughtful and well-written. I loved Jack and Lucky, and their wacky, spontaneous trip through Hong Kong. I loved that most of the characters were Asian or Asian-American; diverse books for the win, always! One of my favorite parts of the book was how Jack and Lucky were explored as people; Lucky with her career, and Jack with his indecision about his own path after high school. I laughed, I screamed, I cried, I cheered. This book was like getting a long, warm hug from a friend, or sitting under a blanket and warming up after a long day. After Girls with Sharp Sticks, it was the perfect antidote, and I will be looking into the rest of Goo’s body of work because I’m totally addicted now. I loved how this chance meeting, straight out of a rom-com, turned into true love. Somewhere Only We Know is a musical, sweet, funny romance that had me laughing, crying, and cheering; Maurene Goo has earned a special place in my heart with her third novel. (Plus, I love how each of her books are also the names of song titles! Score!) I loved every moment, and I will never forget it. Realistic, sweet, funny and thoughtful, I loved Somewhere Only We Know! Highly recommended for all ages! The bottom line: I will be screaming about this book from the rooftops; Maurene Goo has outdone herself completely with her latest novel. Full of humor, heart, joy, and love, I adored Somewhere Only We Know, and Lucky and Jack have become one of my favorite YA couples! Absolutely outstanding. Next on deck: Honor Bound by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/somewhere-only-we-know-by-maurene-goo.html

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls with Sharp Sticks

Author: Suzanne Young

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction/Horror

Series: Girls with Sharp Sticks, book one

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Suzanne Young is one of my favorite authors; I’ve been obsessed with her work ever since I read The Program. So, when I found out that she was writing a new series opener, I was super excited. It’s been in my library stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack after I finished Grim Lovelies. I devoured this book in a day and a half, a strange fever dream reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale. Visceral, timely, vicious and thought-provoking, Girls with Sharp Sticks was a series opener that I will never forget, and I can’t wait for Girls with Razor Hearts! This book is one of my favorites of 2019; it was unforgettable.

               The Girls at Innovations Academy are beautiful, obedient, and pleasant. Under the watchful gazes of their male Guardians, the all-girls school trains its students to be the best society has to offer. They are perfect, free of ugly emotions like arrogance and defiance. But Philomena, or Mena for short, begins to realize that their carefully curated lives are not as perfect as they first appear. As she and her friends begin to unearth the dark secrets of what’s really going on in Innovations Academy—and who they really are—they will discover what they’re truly capable of, because the most beautiful flowers have the sharpest thorns…

               This book. This book! I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of a mashup of The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld, with spare, gorgeous prose and a sick feeling of dread throughout. The pacing was breakneck; Mena’s voice grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until long after the last page. The whole book, I knew what was coming, but I was dreading it all at once. The twists turns, and secrets had me gasping or shrieking. I also loved the characters, especially Mena; her character development as someone who was content to be used into a young woman who grows into her own agency and learns to fight back against the men imprisoning her and her friends. I also applaud the way that Young pointed out rape culture through the narrative; this book was vicious, visceral, and pulled absolutely no punches. It was shocking and timely, especially in our current America, where women’s rights are being steamrolled as I write this review, including in my own state of Ohio. The ending was shocking, and more than a little scary. This book read to me like a horror novel, with a sprinkle of science fiction thrown in for flavor. But it was absolutely necessary, and it should be required reading for everyone. I loved its message: Down with the patriarchy and the way it tries to control girls and young women under impossible double standards they cannot possibly keep themselves. I can’t wait for Girls with Razor Hearts next year! Suzanne has knocked another one straight out of the park, and I can’t wait for more! The bottom line: Dark, dreadful, necessary and visceral, I loved Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I can’t wait for the sequel next year! Next on deck: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/girls-with-sharp-sticks-by-suzanne.html

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd Review

Title: Grim Lovelies

Author: Megan Shepherd

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Grim Lovelies, book one

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Grim Lovelies has been on my library loan list since it came out, so when I found it at my library, I took it home. It’s been sitting in my stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of the stack and began reading as soon as I was finished with America Was Hard to Find. Megan Shepherd is one of my favorite authors; I loved The Madman’s Daughter and The Cage series. I was so happy with this book. It was full of magic, mystery, seductive darkness and dangerous secrets, with Beasties, Goblins, Witches and Royals that stole my heart. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out in August! I daresay that this book is one of the strongest in the entirety of Shepherd’s body of work.

               Anouk is a Beastie, an animal who was turned into a human girl to do a Witch’s bidding. Despite loving her mistress, she longs to join the world of the Pretties, the humans that the Witches and Royals rule over. But her content existence is shattered when she discovers that Mada Vittoria has been brutally murdered. To add to this mess, one of her fellow Beasties, Luc, has disappeared. Forced to make a mad dash across Paris, Anouk and the others must race against the clock to retain their humanity. But more than one person has conspired to see Anouk lose, and she must discover the hidden power inside of herself in order to emerge from the trials unscathed, or she just might lose everything…

               This book was amazing! It was a seductive, dark fairy tale full of dangerous magic and secrets that had me shocked. The characters were my favorite; I fell in love with Anouk and her strange little family. The pacing was breakneck, and the prose was gorgeous; Shepherd’s writing and worldbuilding were unforgettable. But even more than that, I loved the tense, mad dash through a magical, dangerous Paris that I felt was just on the other side of our world. The twists and turns had me gasping, laughing and crying as the book went on. I’ve been waiting for something like Grim Lovelies my whole life. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t love, didn’t feel for in some way. I loved every crazy moment, and I wanted more. That ending! Oh, my goodness! I wish I had Midnight Beauties right now because two days later, I’m reeling! I won’t say anything about it, in case there are some readers that haven’t yet read it. All I can say is that I can’t wait for Midnight Beauties; there was nothing about this beautifully wrought fairy tale that I didn’t love. It’s probably my favorite of all of Megan Shepherd’s books, and I will never forget Anouk and her friends! This is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently, and I can’t wait until Midnight Beauties. The bottom line: Gorgeous, dark and dangerous, I loved Grim Lovelies! One of my favorites that I’ve read recently, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/grim-lovelies-by-megan-shepherd-review.html

Fairest of All: A Tale of The Wicked Queen by …

Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen

Author: Serena Valentino

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Villains, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I
borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I was
reading an article a few weeks ago and discovered that Serena Valentino’s
series of retellings of Disney villains’ origins is becoming a TV series, so I
decided to start it. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, but
I couldn’t renew it anymore, so I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I
was finished with The Guest Book. I adored this adaptation of Disney’s first
villain; it really gave a new perspective on how Grimhilde became The Wicked
Queen. It humanized her, and I very much enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the
rest of this book series, especially since it’s officially concluding in July!

               Snow
White and the Seven Dwarves. A beautiful girl, a jealous queen, an apple, and a
happy ending. We think we know the story. But what about The Wicked Queen’s
side of things? How did she become so evil? Fairest of All imagines an origin
for Grimhilde, the only daughter of a renowned mirror maker. Plucked from obscurity
when her father passes away, she marries the King and becomes Snow White’s
stepmother. Fairest of All documents the queen’s decline from a loving wife and
mother to a monster capable of killing her own child. I really liked this book;
I love retellings, but one of my favorite things is one told from the point of
the view of the villain. The writing was simple but gorgeous, and the pacing
was really nice. I liked how it took the Disney movie and expanded on it. This
book really made me sympathize with The Wicked Queen, and I loved watching her
descent into the darkness. The ending, too, really redeemed this book; I loved
the continuity of it. One thing I can’t help wondering about, though, is the
mysterious Odd Sisters. If it hadn’t been for them, would Grimhilde have stayed
good? Or would her envy and insecurities have gotten the better of her anyway?
A thought-provoking novel about beauty, envy, insecurity, and society’s heavy
and unrealistic expectations for women, I never imagined that before now, I
would ever feel sorry for The Wicked Queen! I can’t wait for the next books in
this deliciously dark new series! The bottom line: Beautifully written, dark
and seductive, I loved Fairest of All, and I can’t wait to read more from
Serena Valentino! Next on deck: America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/fairest-of-all-tale-of-wicked-queen-by.html

Slayer by Kiersten White Review

Title: Slayer

Author: Kiersten White

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Slayer, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I won a signed copy of this book in a contest from Fierce Reads. Thank you so much!

               Shows like Buffy and Angel were things that I was obsessed with as a teenager because they contained all of my favorite things: monsters, magic, darkness, high stakes, and forbidden love. I haven’t seen either of them in years. But I ordered this book from my local library and before I could finish it, I had to take it back. Which was just as well, because a few days later, I received a copy of Slayer from Fierce Reads, and it was signed! I was so excited. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing book stack for a few months now, and once I was finished with The Everlasting Rose, I started Slayer. Taking place in the same universe as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but after the events of the comics. Dark, hilarious, heartfelt and scary, I loved this take on the Buffyverse by one of my favorite authors! One of my favorite books of 2019!

               Nina Jamison-Smythe knows her place in the world. She and her twin sister, Artemis, are both in training to become Watchers, the organization of individuals that help guide Slayers.  She is the healer, the medic, the gentler of the two. She lives in her sister’s shadow, something she both takes refuge in and resents. But when Buffy literally breaks magic, The Watchers are rendered obsolete. Consumed by rage and hatred toward Buffy and Slayers in general, whom she blames for her father’s death, Nina is determined to make a difference in the world. But everything changes when she becomes a Slayer. And not just a Slayer, but the very last Slayer in existence. Forced to bear the burden of powers she never wanted; people begin to die around the castle. Enmeshed in the mystery, Nina must use her newfound powers to save the people she loves. But is she meant to save the world? Or to destroy it?

               Kiersten White is one of my favorite authors, and so when I found out that she was writing a novel set in the Buffyverse, I was so excited! And I was lucky enough to receive a free, signed copy! I loved this book; it felt like I was returning to a place that I had dearly missed, without even knowing! Right out of the gate, I loved it so much. It had all of the darkness, humor, and mystery of Buffy. It’s not a requirement to be a Buffy fan to read this book; it can be read without knowing anything about the comics or show. But I loved the little Easter eggs I kept finding. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the characters, but especially Nina; I really related to her. I loved her character development, her growth from a timid, resentful child to a fiercely powerful and kind young woman who uses her Slayer powers for the good of her loved ones. Artemis, Leo, Honora, and the girls’ mother were also distinctive characters who provoked a strong reaction with me. Dark, terrifying, and full of humor and heart, this book felt like coming home. I very much enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read Chosen! At times, Nina butting heads with everyone got on my nerves; it kind of took away from the book, but overall, this series starter was strong, and I can’t wait for the next book! Next on deck: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/slayer-by-kiersten-white-review.html

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton Revi…

Title: The Everlasting Rose

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Belles, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

        I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

           Dhonielle Clayton is one of my favorite authors, and my favorite book in her body of work was this book’s predecessor, The Belles. I’ve been salivating for the sequel to that explosive, thought-provoking and dark series debut since I finished it. So, when I realized there was a copy sitting on the shelf of my local library, I went and grabbed it as soon as I possibly could. It’s been sitting on the top of my library stack for a while, and I was delighted when I realized that it was next in line. Unfortunately, this sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I greatly enjoyed it nonetheless. Action-packed, thoughtful, shocking and romantic, I loved The Everlasting Rose!

               The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, with Belle favorite, Camellia Beauregard, fleeing the royal palace from the mad princess, Sophia. Realizing the rotten core that lies under the luxurious, glittering veneer of the country of Orleans, she is rightfully furious and desperate for revenge and freedom for herself and her sisters, her fellow Belles. Camellia soon realizes that revolution is brewing right under the surface of everything, and that to do what is right, she may have to bargain with an even more secretive enemy, The Iron Ladies. With the help of her sisters, Edel and Amber, and her bodyguard, Remy, Camellia must decide if she is strong enough to see this mission through, or fall into a web of intrigue and deception that she may never claw her way out of…

               I really liked this book! It fell a little short for me, in comparison to The Belles, but it was a solid sequel. I just hope that this isn’t the end! The ending seemed as if it was a cliffhanger, but I couldn’t tell for certain. Sequels unnerve me, every time: all too often, it just doesn’t hold up to the first book. But overall, The Everlasting Rose really delivered! It took me a little while to remember what was going on, but once I did, I was all in. This book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go, not for a moment. I also adored all of the characters, particularly Sophia, but it was Camellia that really stole the show for me. I loved her development from a naïve, ambitious girl to a fierce, angry warrior of a young woman. I also really liked the way that old and new characters were brought in, to great effect. But I think my favorite part of this whole book was the way that Clayton peeled back the extravagant, glittering layers of Orleans to expose its black, rotten heart.  I really enjoyed the way that Clayton finally elaborated on Orleans, and how it was created, but we finally got to what I was most curious about: The Belles and how they were created. The ending was good, but I’m hoping that there’s more: It can’t end like that! I still have so many questions! Dhonielle Clayton has created a beautiful, dark, gilded world full of thorns and secrets and intrigue, and I was absolutely captivated by it! I really hope that there’s more because this book was just not enough! The bottom line: Dark, beautiful, romantic and twisted, I loved The Everlasting Rose, and I really hope that there’s more, because I won’t be able to deal with it if there isn’t! Next on deck: Slayer by Kiersten White!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-everlasting-rose-by-dhonielle.html

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson Review

Title: The Vanishing Stair

Author: Maureen Johnson

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Truly Devious, book two

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was so excited when the sequel finally dropped back in January. I had to return it to the library the first time I checked it out, as I couldn’t read it before it had to go back. It’s been sitting on the top of my stack for a while, and I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, so as soon as I was done with Saving Meghan, I pushed it to the top of my stack. I devoured it in less than two days, and even though I finished it last night, my head is still spinning! Maureen, how could you end it like that?! How am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the last book in the trilogy?! Smart, shocking, and chilling, The Vanishing Stair was a fantastic sequel, and I can’t wait for the next book! A great sequel to one of my favorite books of last year!

               The Vanishing Stair picks up where Truly, Devious left off, with Stevie still reeling from the events of the last book. For the sake of those who haven’t read it yet, I won’t say too much about the plot; I don’t want to spoil it. But Stevie returns to Ellingham, trying to refocus on the famous case that brought her to the school to begin with. Unable to leave well enough alone, she begins to investigate the deaths that caused her to leave. But it turns out that the deeper she digs, the more she realizes that nothing stays truly stay buried, forever…

               The Vanishing Stair was absolutely wonderful! Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, and I’m so happy that I finally got the read the sequel! I really enjoyed it. Sequels made me so nervous; all too often, they don’t live up to my expectations. But The Vanishing Stair more than delivered; I almost enjoyed it more than the first book. The pacing was breakneck, and it took me a little while to remember what was going on, since it’s been more than a year since I read Truly, Devious. I loved the way that Johnson braided two mysteries together; I was constantly left wondering and scratching my head. I was also screaming, laughing and crying; this book gave me so many feels! The transition between the past and present were really smooth. I also adored the characters, but Stevie and Janelle were my favorites. The twists and turns of the book had me dealing with literary whiplash, and more than once I had to walk away so I could puzzle them out. And that ending! That ending! Oh, my goodness, how on Earth am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the next book?! Come on, Maureen, you’re killing me here! I loved this book, but the ending was what really clinched it for me; I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: Dark, twisty, and thrilling, I loved The Vanishing Stair, and I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Next on deck: Cape May by Chip Creek!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-vanishing-stair-by-maureen-johnson.html

Wrecked by Maria Padian Review

Title: Wrecked

Author: Maria Padian

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

     I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Wrecked was the April book pick for one of the clubs I go to, Young Adult for Adults. I’ve been curious about Wrecked since I first heard about it. I attempted to read it when it first came out, but I had to return it before I could. Wrecked is a searing, thought-provoking novel about consent, agency, and the insidious, pervasive nature of rape culture. I’ve always enjoyed books that have been pulled straight from the headlines, but this book did more than that. It showed the taboo topic of rape of college campuses, through the eyes of two witnesses: Richard, roommate to the rapist, and Haley, roommate of the victim. Sucked into the issue despite wanting to stay out of it, these two characters provide an outsider’s point of view on a traumatic and dehumanizing event. This book was heavy and at times it was really hard to get through, but I’m happy I read it. This book should be required reading for everyone.

               Haley’s roommate, Jenny, claims that she was raped after drinking at a college party, by Richard’s roommate, Jordan. Jordan says that it was just a hookup, but Jenny did not consent. Soon, word starts spreading around the entire college, and it seems no one but the two involved really know what happened. Against their will, both Haley and Richard are drawn into the conflict, and lines are drawn as an investigation is carried out. Who is telling the truth? Who is lying? Will justice be served properly, or will a monster walk free?

               This book was hard to get through, I’m not going to lie. It was heavy and at times uncomfortable. But this book is absolutely necessary reading, for all ages, boys and girls alike. Searing, thought-provoking, and unfortunately true to life, reading Wrecked was like watching a trainwreck: terrifying and unforgettable, but you’re unable to look away, even if you want to. The point of view is split between Haley and Richard, two bystanders turned witnesses. The pacing was breakneck and I was immediately transfixed. I really liked the way that Padian used the point of view of two bystanders to get a read on the situation; it was a new, refreshing way to look at an uncomfortable, but all too necessary, topic. I also liked Haley and Richard as characters, and the way that they developed as the novel went on. At first, they didn’t want to be involved, then, through both of their roommates, they are entangled in the terrible, confusing web of lies and deception that surround the case. One of my favorite parts of it was the bittersweet ending because it was very true to life. Jenny and Jordan were also characters that leaped off the page for me. They were a stark contrast to one another, and I hated Jordan. My heart broke for Jenny, as well as Haley and Richard. At times, there were so many different characters that I had to go back and reread; it got hard to keep track of everything at times. Nonetheless, this book was heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, searing, and absolutely necessary. Required reading for all and highly recommended! The bottom line: A searing, thoughtful and necessary book that pulls no punches, I loved Wrecked! Next on deck: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/wrecked-by-maria-padian-review.html

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith Review

Title: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Bloodleaf, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I found Bloodleaf on a book recommendation list for the new books of January 2019, and I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my book stack for a while, and I recently had to start over entirely. But I chose not to take Bloodleaf back, as I had already started it and was invested. With Bloodleaf, debut author Crystal Smith pens a dark, surprising fantasy that evokes Grimm’s Fairy tales and classics, like The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t perfect, there were some flaws, but overall, this was an amazing book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Aurelia, Conrad, and Zan!

               Aurelia is the princess of Renalt, the daughter of the late king. Unwanted, surrounded by spirits, and forbidden from using her powerful blood magic, she is forced to flee to the country of her betrothed after a brutal assassination attempt. Disguising herself as a common girl, she finds the happiness she’s never known in her old life. As she begins to actively hone her magical skills, Aurelia finds herself falling for a man that can’t rule at her side. But the ghosts that haunt her so completely refuse to leave her be, and she finds herself giving in, despite the prejudices she’s carried all her life. But she soon finds herself trapped in a web of deceit, evil, and magic that only she can stop. Will she be able to balance the weight of the crown and her newfound freedom?

               This book was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect with Bloodleaf, but I really enjoyed it! I loved the way that it took the classic fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved Aurelia’s voice. I also loved the way that the author paid homage to classic fairy tales, specifically Grimm’s fairy tales and The Goose Girl. I also really liked the worldbuilding and the magical system of the book. But what really won me over about this debut was the characters. Aurelia was the princess no one wanted, who was forced to grow from a meek, passive girl into a strong and powerful young woman who shamelessly fights for those she loves. Lisette, Conrad, Kate, Nathaniel, and Zan made really good foils for her. Zan, though, was my absolute favorite! I almost related to him more than even Aurelia. The ending—oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I was absolutely blown away. I can’t wait for the sequel! There were a lot of times when I had to go back and reread because there were so many different characters and places to remember, and some of the romance between Zan and Aurelia felt a little contrived. Nonetheless, Crystal Smith has created a fun, dark fantasy that left me reeling, and I’m so excited for what’s coming next! The bottom line: Dark, magical, and surprising, I loved Bloodleaf, and I’m so excited for the sequel! Next on deck: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/bloodleaf-by-crystal-smith-review.html

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith Review

Title: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Bloodleaf, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I found Bloodleaf on a book recommendation list for the new books of January 2019, and I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my book stack for a while, and I recently had to start over entirely. But I chose not to take Bloodleaf back, as I had already started it and was invested. With Bloodleaf, debut author Crystal Smith pens a dark, surprising fantasy that evokes Grimm’s Fairy tales and classics, like The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t perfect, there were some flaws, but overall, this was an amazing book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Aurelia, Conrad, and Zan!

               Aurelia is the princess of Renalt, the daughter of the late king. Unwanted, surrounded by spirits, and forbidden from using her powerful blood magic, she is forced to flee to the country of her betrothed after a brutal assassination attempt. Disguising herself as a common girl, she finds the happiness she’s never known in her old life. As she begins to actively hone her magical skills, Aurelia finds herself falling for a man that can’t rule at her side. But the ghosts that haunt her so completely refuse to leave her be, and she finds herself giving in, despite the prejudices she’s carried all her life. But she soon finds herself trapped in a web of deceit, evil, and magic that only she can stop. Will she be able to balance the weight of the crown and her newfound freedom?

               This book was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect with Bloodleaf, but I really enjoyed it! I loved the way that it took the classic fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved Aurelia’s voice. I also loved the way that the author paid homage to classic fairy tales, specifically Grimm’s fairy tales and The Goose Girl. I also really liked the worldbuilding and the magical system of the book. But what really won me over about this debut was the characters. Aurelia was the princess no one wanted, who was forced to grow from a meek, passive girl into a strong and powerful young woman who shamelessly fights for those she loves. Lisette, Conrad, Kate, Nathaniel, and Zan made really good foils for her. Zan, though, was my absolute favorite! I almost related to him more than even Aurelia. The ending—oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I was absolutely blown away. I can’t wait for the sequel! There were a lot of times when I had to go back and reread because there were so many different characters and places to remember, and some of the romance between Zan and Aurelia felt a little contrived. Nonetheless, Crystal Smith has created a fun, dark fantasy that left me reeling, and I’m so excited for what’s coming next! The bottom line: Dark, magical, and surprising, I loved Bloodleaf, and I’m so excited for the sequel! Next on deck: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon!

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