Arabella Ashby is a tomboy with a talent for mechanics. Her happy life on Mars comes to an end when her mother takes her back to earth for an education in how to be a young woman. A family misfortune has Arabella scrambling for a way to get back to Mars. Her solution is to disguise herself as a boy and get a job aboard the trading ship Diana. Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine is a fun steampunk space adventure. The setting is a clever alternate version of the Regency era where the Napoleonic wars have spread to the skies. Arabella is a plucky heroine who is smart and capable and not willing to sit idly by as duty dictates. I'm excited to read the sequel, Arabella and the Battle for Venus, out this July.
Iolanthe Seaborne is an elemental mage. She can control water, earth, and fire. Prince Titus VII is looking for the elemental mage prophesied to help rid the world of the Bane and release the people from the shackles of New Atlantis. Once Titus finds her has to hide her, so he takes her to his all-boys boarding school in non-magical 1883 England and disguises Iolanthe as Fairfax. Now he just has to convince her to help him change the world. The Burning Sky is full of everything I love most about the fantasy genre: a colliding of two worlds, complex political intrigue, prophecy, cool training facilities, and a terrifying villain. See why we love Sherry Thomas's series. It's perfect for anyone really missing Harry Potter.
Jordan Sun is tired of getting nowhere in the acting program at her prestigious art school. There just aren't a lot of parts for an Asian Alto II. When a spot opens up in a men's a cappella group, she decides to audition, disguised as a boy. I was excited to read Noteworthy because it sounded so fun. A cappella, a girl disguised as a boy, what could be better? I found the book had depths I wasn't expecting and tackled weighty issues. It wasn't the light read I anticipated, but it was rich and reflective. Riley Redgate's Noteworthy has a little bit of everything and was well worth the read. Noteworthy was out May 2, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.
Mariko, the daughter of a noble samurai, is on her way to the imperial city to meet her betrothed when her convoy is ambushed and she is left for dead. Determined to discover who ordered her death, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan disguised as a boy. Life among the Black Clan is invigorating and opens Mariko's eyes to life beyond the confines of her home and sex. Mariko continually has to remind herself that these men are her enemies, not her friends. And yet, secrets are everywhere. Who are these bandits really? Flame in the Mist begins a great second series for Renee Ahdieh filled with interesting and complicated characters, a gorgeous setting, and a heady romance. I do wish I understood the magic system a bit better. Perhaps more will be revealed in the second book.
Samantha and her father are the only Chinese people in their tiny village and many are none too happy they're there. So when Samantha's father dies in a fire, her life is put in jeopardy. With the help of a runaway slave, she heads west. She and Annamae disguise themselves as boys and join a group of cowboys on their way across the country. Stacey Lee is a beautiful writer. The images she paints are incredible. I really appreciated the friendship between Sammy and Anna. They take great care of each other throughout the book. Under a Painted Sky is an excellent historical fiction that captured the struggles and triumphs of life on the Oregon trail. P.S. More Westerns.
Arabella of Mars, The Burning Sky, and Flame in the Mist reviewed by JoLee.
Noteworthy and Under a Painted Sky reviewed by Paige.