Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Witches

The Halloween season is my very favorite reading season. If I had my way, I would just settle in for a month or two of spooky, atmospheric reads. If you haven't settled on a Halloween read yet, we've got five great options for you here.

More Halloween recommendations here.

Child of a Witch:
Julia and her bother, Dack, are part of Spira City's underground. Working for a group of spies and thieves, Julia finds herself spying in a grand house full of mystery. Her interest in the house's activities are piqued when a witch and her young son enter the household. Julia Vanishes has such a rich setting. I love that Spira City is split into many different sections and it's easy to tell the rich areas from poor ones based on their names. There are many religions in this book as well as folklore, witches, and magic, all with great details. For instance, witches only do magic when they write things down. Catherine Egan has truly created a magical world and I loved every minute. (It was also a great audiobook!)

Necromancer in Training:
Rin Chupeco's The Bone Witch is gorgeously written and so interesting. Tea is a bone witch, meaning she can raise beings from the dead. Powerful and feared, Tea must leave home to train with a more experienced necromancer. This first book in the series mostly chronicles Tea's training. However, the book is set up as a story within a story, and so the reader gets glimpses of a more powerful Tea recounting her tale, which definitely piqued my interest. The Bone Witch reminded me more than anything of Miriam Foster's City of a Thousand Dolls. It has a similar geisha-like training aspect to it. The setting is truly rich and lavish. I'm definitely curious about the sequel. Review copy from NetGalley.

A Family Affair:
At River's new high school the three most mysterious, most popular students are the Grace siblings, Summer, who is River's age and her older siblings, twins Fenrin and Thalia. Everyone says the Graces are witches, and River, wants nothing more than to be taken into their circle. The Graces by Laure Eve has a very mysterious air to it. River is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and there's this sense throughout that she is leaving out something big, but what is it? And is there really magic or not? River's interest in the Graces is a full-on obsession, and as the pieces fall into place, the reader starts to understand why. This book is an excellent Halloween pick. Review copy from NetGalley.

Rose and Moon:
When the Moon was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore is the unique story of a girl, Miel, born of water and with roses sprouting out of her wrists, and Sam, known to the town as Moon because of the beautiful moon creations he hangs on trees. Miel and Sam are inseparable and have been friends for sometime. As strange as the pair are they aren't nearly as strange as the Bonner sisters who the town whispers are witches. The Bonner girls have a fascination with Miel's roses and believe in their magical abilities. They'd do whatever it takes to get them from Miel. The story was third point omniscient which made the story very different than anything I have ever read before. The details in the story were lovely and it was a short pleasant read. Review copy from NetGalley.

Baking Magic:
Maire is a baker who can endow her treats with magical qualities. She has no memories before the day she came to live with in her small village. Things go horribly wrong when marauders attack the town and sell Maire into slavery. Her captor forces her to bake cakes for witches' homes and gingerbread boys. All the while, a mysterious, ghostly being, Fyel visits Maire. He's trying to help her, but he can't touch her or tell her anything outright. Who is Maire? Is she a witch or an angel? Charlie N. Holmberg tells the most creative and strange stories. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet has really stuck with me, and I don't think I will ever forget this bizarre and beautiful tale. Review copy from NetGalley.

Julia Vanishes reviewed by Paige.
The Bone Witch, The Graces, and Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet reviewed by JoLee.
When the Moon was Ours reviewed by Sarah.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Series Salute: Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud

For the last several years I've had this lovely tradition of reading the newest Lockwood & Co. for Halloween. As far as Halloween reads (or really anytime of the year reads) go, I cannot recommend a series more enthusiastically. I love it. I don't know that I can adequately express how much. I'm currently rereading the whole series, and I cannot tell you how long it's been since I did any rereading, let alone a whole series in one go. (So many books. So little time.) But I am loving this reread. These books make me so happy. I find myself foolishly grinning and terrified all at once. (Kind of like Lucy and Lockwood on a case.) If I could have my way, the series would go on forever so that I could continue my favorite Halloween tradition.

About the Books

Lucy Carlyle is the newest agent on the Lockwood & Co team. Anthony Lockwood and his associates hunt and contain ghosts, and they have a lot to prove. Although Lockwood, Lucy, and George are extremely talented, they are also the only Psychic Investigation Agency in London without an adult at the helm. You see, only a few talented young people can see or sense ghosts, and as one ages one's talents lessen. Thus the young, by necessity, are on the front lines. The series takes the reader through Lockwood & Co.'s ever-intensifying string of cases. Terrifying it may be, but the series also is wildly funny and filled with characters who have wormed their way into my heart.

Why I Love Them

1. Lucy

Lucy is a fantastic narrator. She has emotional scars, a bit of a temper, and is, honestly, a complete mess at times, but that all feels very real to me. And, on the other hand, she gains confidence throughout the series and has a fascinating talent.  

2. Lockwood

Lockwood is the brash and confidence team leader. Quick with a smile and adept and making others feel they are important, Lockwood also can be secretive and brooding. Like Lucy, the reader loves him, but desperately wants him to open up a little. The tension between those two is thick.

3. George

On my second read of the series, I find myself loving George more and more. I think I'm developing a bit of a soft spot in my heart for George Cubbins. Untidy he may be, but he is also smart and funny, and what can I say, I love a good nerd. Honestly, I think George may be the glue that holds this team together. 

4. The Ghosts

These ghosts are terrifying. Jonathan Stroud really knows how to turn the creepy up to full blast. I think the episode in the department store in the third book is the scariest. I listened to the audio books and, while the narration is just lovely, I cannot condone nighttime listening, unless you want to be totally creeped out. I did not listen to my own advice and was lying awake in my bed on more than one occasion. 

5. The World

The world that Stroud creates is spectacular. "The Problem," as it is called, has been afflicting folks for about fifty years now, and there are whole industries built up around ghost control. The scenes are so atmospheric and vivid. While reading, I feel fully immersed in this alternate London.

6.  The Skull

Oh, I love The Skull. It is such a delightful, snarky much-needed dose of comic relief. This series wouldn't be half as great without this cheeky ghost. He has some real zingers, and he just makes me laugh. (And, spoiler: I was so worried for him in the fourth book.)

7. Quill Kipps

I know what you're thinking, but seriously just give him time. Kipps's team plays a vital role in the series, and I really can't help but like them all. Also, Kipps's interactions with the team are pretty darn hilarious at times. (He's especially great in book 4.)

8. The Adventure

The pacing in these books is near perfection. Sure I love a good slow burn, but it's also so much fun to just move through an exciting plot (especially when there are fabulous characters taking you for the ride), and that's what these books do.  

9. The Larger Mystery

I love how every book is arranged by jobs--all of which lead up to the larger case at the end of each book. And, sprinkled in amongst all that scary stuff are the traces of a larger mystery that runs through the whole series. Rereading the books all in a row, has really given me the chance to put those pieces together in a way I couldn't before.

Lockwood & Co. is featured on as many Highly Anticipated posts as it possibly could be (posts here). And on basically all of my big year-end favorites lists (posts here). That's how much I love this series.

More Halloween recommendations here.  


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Communism, The Cold War, and the Berlin Wall

I've found myself drawn to novels about The Cold War recently. This Reading on a Theme brings together five Young Adult and Middle Grade novels set during the Cold War Era. All of these books focuses on the Berlin Wall from the point of view of East Germany, but they do so in a variety of ways, from the Russian who is helping to construct it, to the American child whose parents might be spies stationed behind it, to the Berliners who seek to escape it.

The Time Traveler:
On a trip to Berlin, Ellie Baum suddenly finds herself in 1988 East Berlin. Trapped in the past and behind the Berlin Wall, Ellie falls in with a resistance group that helps people escape via magical balloons. Ellie and her new friends must unravel the mystery behind her time travel, which proves to be more and more sinister with every discovery. The Girl with the Red Balloon is a fascinating combination of magic, historical fiction, and mystery. I love how Katherine Locke moves between Ellie's story and her grandfather's during WWII. The family ties made the tale so much richer for me. I want to know where else these balloonist have been secretly working. Out September 1, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

The KGB Agent:
In 1958 Russia, Svetlana is a resident of an orphanage for children of Enemies of the People. Sveta is also an incredibly passionate and talented ballet dancer, and she's determined to be a star of the Bolshoi Ballet, if only her family's past was not such a black mark. Seeking political redemption, Svetlana begins working with the KGB (not that she really has a choice). She has talents they find useful; talents that will help with the plan to build a wall in Berlin and stop a showdown in Cuba. Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn is part of Elizabeth Kiem's series following three generations of dancers in the Dukovskaya family. Svetlana's story is really where it all begins in the heart of Cold War Russia. Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn is out August 22, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Resistance Fighter:
Troubled teens, Molly Mavity and Pepper Yusuf, are brought together under the most unusual of circumstances. They've been told that they must solve the mystery of who killed Ava Dreyman, a teenager whose published diary is said to have brought down the Berlin Wall. Oh my, The Arsonist is such a strange and wonderful book. Told in a series of letters and journal entries written by the three main characters, the story that unfolds reveal secrets, lies, and family tragedies. Stephanie Oakes' book is masterfully constructed. I'm so impressed by the way she weaves the mystery between characters and timelines. I also love the layers of symbolism in this book. The Arsonist is out August 22, 2017.

The American Child:
Noah Keller's parents are acting really weird. When they picked him up from school they told him they were leaving for East Berlin right away so that his mother could do research for her dissertation. Then they explained the long list of rules he must follow, including going by a different name, while in Germany. Noah is pretty sure his parents aren't what they seem. This middle-grade story by Anne Nesbet of a boy behind the Iron Curtain was not exactly what I expected, but I liked it all the same. I could especially appreciate the book because in 1989, I was the same age as Noah. It was interesting to imagine myself in his shoes. Cloud and Wallfish was out September 2016.

The Deserter:
The night the Berlin Wall went up, Gerta's father and brother were in the west. With her family divided by the wall, Gerta can't seem to settle into life in East Germany. She can't help but watch the wall, despite the danger, and one day she sees her father and brother standing on a tall platform in West Berlin. They seem to have a message for her. With her brother Fritz due to report to the army in a matter of weeks, Gerta and Fritz undergo a desperate plan to escape. A Night Divided is so good. It's emotional and gripping, and I wanted so badly for it to end well, but I was so afraid that it wouldn't. Jennifer A. Nielsen did a spectacular job conveying the tense atmosphere of the German Democratic Republic. 

All books reviewed by JoLee.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Teens in Space

Look how gorgeous these covers are when placed side by side! I loved traveling to space with the characters in the books below. If I had to pick a favorite it would be Defy the Stars or maybe Starflight. It's hard to pick! They are all so different, but they are all exciting and interesting. 

The Soldier and the Mech:
Noemi Vidal is a soldier of Genesis, a planet that seceded from Earth's colonies in hopes of protecting their world. Now Genesis is at war with Earth and they are desperate. Abel is a machine, abandoned by his creator in the Genesis system, he spent 30 years alone until Noemi boards his ship. The two then set off on a romp around the galaxy on a mission to save Noemi's planet. I love Claudia Gray's books. Defy the Stars is so entertaining. I can't seem to get enough of the the sentient AI motif, and Gray's book is a great addition to this subgenre. I also love that she handled religion and the idea of souls with so much respect and honesty. Defy the Stars is out April 4, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Outcasts:
Solara Brooks hopes her mechanical skills will mean more than her felony status in the Outer Realm. She's so desperate to escape earth that she agrees to an indenture with the most arrogant boy from her high school, Doran Spaulding. A series of bizarre events lands Solara and Doran on the Banshee, a rickety tin can of a ship manned by a small group of outcasts. Starflight is so much fun. If you like pirates or Firefly you will have a lot of fun reading Melissa Lander's book. I loved the camaraderie between the members of the Banshee's crew. The mystery angle to this book definitely kept me guessing. I'm excited to read the sequel, Starfall, which was published earlier this year.

The Competitor:
Emmett joins a group of ten teenagers who have been recruited by the Babel company to mine an amazing material called nyxia recently discovered on the planet New Eden. The first book in this new trilogy takes place aboard the space ship Genesis 11 where Babel forces the kids to train via an intense competition. Nyxia has the high-stakes competition plot device that we've seen in so many books recently. It especially reminded me of Red Rising. Scott Reintgen really keeps the pace moving and also confronts deeper issues like race and poverty. I'm both terrified and eager to learn what will happen once the characters reach Eden in book 2. Nyxia is out September 12, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Veterinarian:
In Under Nameless Stars, the sequel to Zenn Scarlet, our titular character leaves Mars as a stowaway aboard the Helen of Troy. Zenn is following a lead on her missing father. What starts as a mission to find her dad becomes much bigger when the Helen is hijacked. Christian Schoon's book is so creative. Zenn is an exoveterinarian, meaning she specializes in doctoring creatures from space, and Schoon is so good at populating his book with interesting creatures. I found space travel by Indra especially fascinating, and a clever move on Schoon's part as it makes Zenn's role that much greater. Jules was a very fun addition. I'm not going to tell you what kind of creature he is, but I will say it was very unexpected. 

The Lost Princess:
Princess Rhiannon Ta'an is the only surviving member of the Kalusian dynasty. Her driving force is to avenge her family's brutal deaths. Alyosha is a Wraetean who stars on a popular reality show but has not forgotten his difficult past as a refugee. The two are forced to go into hiding together. They must journey across space and learn who is behind the plot to kill Rhee and start a war. Empress of a Thousand Skies is an epic space odyssey. In her debut novel, Rhoda Belleza sets the scene for what is sure to be an intense duology. She grapples with themes such as war, revenge, race, and discrimination in a thoughtful and serious way.

All books reviewed by JoLee.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Young Ballet Dancers

I definitely have a thing for ballet books. This is not the first time I've featured a collection of ballet books, and I'm certain it won't be the last either. (More ballet books here and here.) This bunch is a rather serious one, with dancers who are dealing with difficult political, personal, and familial situations.

As Seen on TV
Magnolia (Mags) and her best friend George enter a SYTYCD-type competition. For George the show is a chance to be recognized for his skill, but for Mags the competition means much more. She sees a victory as a way to change her small town's opinion of her and her sister, whose reputations have been tainted by their mother's abandonment after a terrible accident. Spin the Sky gives readers look behind-the-scenes of a reality show. This one seems to have a lot of drama. Mags goes through a lot of personal growth in this debut novel from Jill MacKenzie, I especially loved how well she conveyed the feel of a small Oregon town. Spin the Sky was out November 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Letters to You:
Una LaMarche sets her story at a prestigious arts school in New York City. You in Five Acts follows five of its students: two ballet dancers, Joy and Diego, and three drama students, Ethan, Liv, and Dave. Each character writes an act to one of the other four. It was difficult at first to get into the second-person voice, but it was interesting to see how the characters' stories were woven together and how the decisions they made impacted the others. It was obvious from the beginning that something tragic was going to occur in this story, but I was not prepared for how tragic it really was. The abruptness of what happens sheds a light on the unfairness and senselessness of these kind of situations. You in Five Acts was out November 2016. Copy from Penguin First to Read.

Dancing in Alaska:
The Smell of Other People's Houses four Alaskan teenagers' lives slowly become entwined. Ruth lives with her grandmother is drawn to less-repressive homes. Alyce's dreams of dancing conflict with her time with her father on his fishing boat. Dora is trying to escape the nightmare of her past. Hank and his brothers stow away on the ferry. It is difficult to express in words the simple elegance of Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's novel. I love books like this that create a quiet, contemplative mood. The language in this book is exquisite. The reading experience is beautiful both in content and in execution. Perfection from start to finish with a gorgeously rendered setting, it was one of my favorite reads of 2016.

Bolshoi Ballerina:
In 1958 Russia, Svetlana is a resident of an orphanage for children of Enemies of the People. Sveta is also an incredibly passionate and talented ballet dancer, and she's determined to be a star of the Bolshoi Ballet. Her road to stardom is hindered thanks to the black mark on her family's record. But Svetlana has other talents that the government finds useful; talents which a certain KGB agent promises will help erase that scar. Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn is part of Elizabeth Kiem's series that follows three generations of dancers in the Dukovskaya family. I really enjoyed this addition to the series. Svetlana's story is really where it all begins in the heart of Cold War Russia. Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn is out August 22, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

Camp Perform at Your Peak:
Samantha wants to be a professional ballet dancer. She's really good, but in recent months she's gotten curvier and taller, and she's received a lot of negative attention because of her new body. The result is crippling anxiety over her appearance. Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional barriers. I love what Kathryn Holmes did with How It Feels to Fly. The book takes an honest look at some of the crueler aspects of dance. Holmes wrote about her own time as a dancer here, and I think that her personal experiences really made this book what it is. To me, this book just got better and better with every page. How it Feels to Fly was out June 2016.

All books reviewed by JoLee.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Blog Tour: The Dire King by William Ritter

I'm so thrilled to be a part of The Dire King Blog Tour, hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. I jumped right on William Ritter's Jackaby Series when the first book came out four years ago, and I'm so glad. The series has brought me nothing but joy, and every year I've eagerly anticipated the next book's publication date. This week the final book in the Jackaby Series came out, and I am both thrilled to read it and a little sad that the series has come to an end. (Other books in the series featured here, here, here, and here)

Have you read the Jackaby Series? If not now's your chance to win a copy of the first book in the series and get started. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance.

The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

by William Ritter

Release Date: August 22nd 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Synopsis: The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times best-selling series the Chicago Tribune called “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sends the eccentric detective and his indispensible assistant into the heart of a war between magical worlds. 

 The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times best-selling Jackaby series features sly humor and a quirky cast of unforgettable characters as they face off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Book Depository | Kobo

The Dire King is such a fantastic conclusion to this clever series. It's always a lot of fun to be back at 926 Augur Lane with these beloved characters. The stakes are appropriately high (as in end-of-the-world high) for the grand finale, and yet, the book still feels personal, maintains its humor. But, believe me it will break your heart a little too. Oh, I'm sad to let this series go. Here's why.

Why I Love Them

1. R.F. Jackaby
R.F. Jackaby is a detective of sorts who specializes in weird and unexplained occurrences. Most of New Fiddleham thinks that Jackaby is pretty weird and barely tolerable, but its his quirk that makes him such a fun character. Jackaby is smart and clever and incredibly funny in a Sherlock Holmsian kind of way. In other words, he is 100% serious about all the weird things he says and does.

2. Abigail Rook
I seriously adore Abigail. She is a fantastic narrator, and I just love her adventurous spirit. I mean, the series starts off with Abigail running away from home because she wanted to be a paleontologist. Always plucky and resourceful, Abigail will befriend ghosts and shapeshifters and journey to Hell and the Fairy Realm. She's not your average gal.

3. Jackaby and Abigail 
Okay, as much as I love Jackaby and Abigail in their own right, what I really, really love is the two together. You don't see duos like this very often in YA literature. When I first started the series I thought that there was going to be some kind of romance between the two, but I quickly realized that Jackaby is substantially older than Abigail and this a mentorship. And I love that! Abigail and Jackaby's professional relationship is quite endearing. Also, because Abigail is scientifically minded, especially at the beginning of the series, the exchanges between these two can be rather hilarious.

4. 926 Augur Lane  
Jackaby's house is just the best! It's messy and cluttered and full of weird objects. It's home to a duck who has his own pond on the third floor and who was formerly Jackaby's assistant. Plus the house is haunted. New surprises arise at 926 in every book. It was a joy to spend so much time there in the final book.

5. Jenny Cavanaugh
Jackaby's house is really Jenny's house. She is the resident ghost, and she allows, or should I say tolerates, Jackaby's presence. The mystery behind Jenny's death ten years prior was one thing that really kept me reading because it's impossible not to like Jenny. Jenny's growth over the series is definitely one of the highlights for me.

6. New Fiddleham
The Jackaby Series is a historical urban fantasy set in the fictitious New England town of New Fiddleham (I love that name). I really like the historical aspect of the story and the way the language helps set the stage, time-frame wise.

7. The Magical Creatures
No one does mythical creatures quite like William Ritter. I love the variety of creatures and the mixture of sources from dragons, to fae, to Greek mythology. Some creatures are scary, some are clever, some are kind. And a bunch are really funny. In the last book, especially, the conflict between the magical and the humans calls attention to issues of hypocrisy, tolerance, and prejudice.

8. The Mysteries
Each book in the series has its own mystery, as well as thread of a larger story. Which, in my mind, is the ideal way to frame a series. I started to get a sense of this larger picture in book 2 and with the subsequent books we got deeper and deeper into the big problem.

9. The Humor
I have mentioned one or five times that I think these books are funny? This isn't hit-you-over-the-head funny. It's a subtle humor that has quite a bit of wit. Just my thing.


"A little Dr. Who, a little Harry Potter, and a lot of Sherlock, New York Times bestselling author Will Ritter’s Jackaby series has thrilled YA readers with magic, mystery and adventure since the first book introduced us to a supernatural sleuth and his trusty assistant. In The Dire King: A Jackaby Novel (on sale August 22), Ritter sends the series out with a bang, with even more mystery, romance, and the most epic battle yet. We hope you’ll strongly consider prominent coverage for The Dire King--and all the Jackaby books—as we say goodbye to our crime-solving friends in New Fiddleham.

“A humorous, energetic, action-packed, and magical conclusion.”
 —Kirkus Reviews, starred review Ritter’s debut novel

Jackaby (a New York Times bestseller and 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner) introduced readers to R.F. Jackaby, a quirky detective with a knack for the supernatural; Abigail Rook, his skeptical and observant assistant; Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly landlady of 926 Augur Lane; and Charlie Cane, a shape-shifting police officer. Beastly Bones and Ghostly Echoes followed the crime-solving team from their home in New Fiddleham to the depths of the underworld as they uncovered more clues about the evil forces behind Jenny’s murder.


WILLIAM RITTER is an Oregon educator and author of the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Monday, August 21, 2017

Favorite Reads of 2017 (The Halfway Mark)

The year is already more than half over, and we have read so many great books already. It's time to share a few.

We didn't want to spill the beans too much on our Favorite End of the Year Reads, so Paige and I each picked five of our favorites. And let me tell you, sticking to just five was not easy.

JoLee's Top Five

Windwitch by Susan Dennard:
The series follow-up to Truthwitch is pretty spectacular. I liked this book so much because it just went in so many unexpected places. The characters and the world felt like they expanded tenfold in this addition to the series. I really, really hope that the series can maintain this quality.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer:
This book is achingly good. It is full of heartache and hope and delivered so many emotions. The book is a cross between a more serious version of You've Got Mail and The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter--two things I love. (featured here)

Dead Wake by Erik Larson:
My favorite book club pick of the year so far.I love the way that Larson weaves together the stories of the passengers of the Lusitania, the men on Unterseeboot-20, and Woodrow Wilson's presidency in the days leading up to the ship's sinking.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan:
I've been recommending this book to everyone who loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Set in England during the early years of World War II, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a epistolary novel told through letters and journal entries with a decidedly female perspective.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor:
Laini Taylor writes the loveliest slow-burn fantasy. Her world-building is absolutely incredible. I'm absolutely fascinated by the world that she created in this book, from the Medieval Monastic feel to the god-slayers of Weep. (featured here)

Paige's Top Five

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor:
I've been looking forward to this book for a long time, but it had been long enough since I'd read the first two books in the series that I couldn't jump right in. I reread those and then devoured the conclusion. Ending a series is incredibly difficult, but this was beautifully written, the kind of story you fall into and can't get out.

Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno:
After reading, and loving, Katrina Leno's The Lost and Found, I was excited for this one. It did not disappoint. Ms. Leno writes beautiful magical realism. This book is infused with a feeling of possibilities and "what ifs." It was an achingly lovely read.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi:
This companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen was beautiful and interesting. As a storyteller, I loved the power of story as highlighted throughout the book. This book also had so many great quotes that left me thinking about story and magic and possibilities. (featured here)

The Last Thing You Said by Sarah Biren:
In this book, Sarah Biren explores different ways people deal with grief. Some are healthy, some are not. All are true to life and fit her characters. The thing that landed this book on my favorites list are the "Trixies"--stories the main character tells about the best friend she lost. They are magical and sweet and lovely. (featured here)

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows:
This is the funniest book I have read in a long time and I have been recommending it right and left. The alternate world it takes place in is fabulous and the narration is tongue and cheek and oh so snide. It must be noted that the audiobook enhances the humor through a fantastic narrator with perfect comedic timing. (featured here)

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