These August books, as a group, are pretty awesome. Like, have I ever had three full five-stars in one post? I don’t know, but it’s great! Lucky for you, you can get them now or in a few days!
A debut YA novel-in-verse that is both a coming-of-age and a ghost story.
Moth has lost her family in an accident. Though she lives with her aunt, she feels alone and uprooted.
Until she meets Sani, a boy who is also searching for his roots. If he knows more about where he comes from, maybe he’ll be able to understand his ongoing depression. And if Moth can help him feel grounded, then perhaps she too will discover the history she carries in her bones.
Moth and Sani take a road trip that has them chasing ghosts and searching for ancestors. The way each moves forward is surprising, powerful, and unforgettable.
Here is an exquisite and uplifting novel about identity, first love, and the ways that our memories and our roots steer us through the universe.
Sometimes, I have trouble connecting to novels-in-verse. Me (Moth) was very much not one of those books. This book is stunning. From start to finish, I was captured by the incredible writing, the wonderful characters, and Moth’s entire heartbreaking story. The truth is, I am quite afraid to say too much about this one, because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s the kind of story you need to experience for yourself, and nothing I can tell you will do the book justice.
It’s such a gorgeous and moving journey, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Yes, Moth and Sani go on a pretty epic road trip, which I loved. But even more than that is the trip they go on within themselves, finding light in the darkest times.
Bottom Line: Moth won my (Shannon’s) whole entire heart.
P.S.- Make sure you read the author’s note for her incredible playlist for the book!
In Cazadora, the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues to weave Argentine folklore and real-world issues into a haunting, fantastical, and romantic story that will reunite readers with Manu and her friends as they continue to fight for a better future.
I was so pleasantly surprised at my love for Lobizona, as contemporary fantasy and I do not always mix. But we did, and I was excited for the sequel. Cazadora? Even better, frankly! I will start with my only minor complaint, and that was that it was a little hard for me to get back into the world and characters. But once I was in? I was in.
Like its predecessor, Cazadora tackles so many important topics within its pages. From Manu being “illegal” in both the human and magical world, to blatant sexism, to homophobia and racism, this series tackles these issues in a really great way. And in this sequel, Manu is pretty much tired of being afraid and cowering to those who wished she didn’t exist. We see so much growth in Manu and her friends, as they step up, trying to do better.
“They want to know if I can keep up with the wolves? Let them wonder if the wolves can keep up with me.”
We get to see so much more of this magical Septimus world, which I loved, even more so because it was set in Argentina this round! So delving deeper into the Argentinian folk lore was obviously a huge plus. The stakes are higher than ever, too, and there is a sense that absolutely no one is safe in this world as long as the current system remains in place. I loved that the author didn’t make it easy for Manu and company to fight back against their oppressors- but she did make it necessary.
Bottom Line: Absolutely cannot wait for the next book, as the Wolves of No World series just keeps getting better and better!
In this claustrophobic science fiction thriller, a woman begins to doubt her own sanity and reality itself when she undergoes a dangerous experiment.
The Ganymede compound is a fresh start. At least that's what Senna tells herself when she arrives to take part in a cutting-edge scientific treatment, where participants have traumatic memories erased.
And Senna has reasons for wanting to escape her past.
But almost as soon as the treatment begins, Senna finds more than just her traumatic memories disappearing. She hardly recognizes her new life or herself. Even though the symptoms for the process might justify the cure, Senna knows that something isn't right. As her symptoms worsen, Senna will need to band together with the other participants to unravel the mystery of her present, and save her future.
Reclaimed is a fast paced and exciting story that asks a pretty tough question: Would you have traumatic memories removed if you could? And what would be the cost?
I was invested from the start by the premise alone. Because how can the reader not ask themselves that question? The participants in this particular “treatment” have all undergone some seriously life-altering (in the bad way, of course) events, and the ensuing trauma is making it hard for them to live their lives. So when they’re presented with the option of basically just slicing out the bad stuff, they’re game. But the thing is, if something sounds too good to be true? Yeah, it probably is.
Senna, the main character, understandably wants to rid herself of the memories of her space cult (yes, space cult, love it) and its tragic end. The other two participants are dealing with equally harsh life events in which they have lost people close to them, or been harmed. I really felt for them, trying to navigate a very invasive futuristic world where privacy is nearly non-existent, and nearly every person in the universe knows of the events that are destroying them.
The atmosphere is incredible, and from the start, you just know that something is “off”, and that the rich guy who is offering to provide solace is probably not as advertised. The problem is, of course, the characters’ memories are being messed with, and nothing is what it seems. I read this book so quickly, as I was eager to find the answers, and it did not disappoint!
Bottom Line: An exciting and thought-provoking adventure, I definitely enjoyed and recommend Reclaimed!
Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.
Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library's grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.
The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot's face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her... and he'll have her, dead or alive.
Content Warnings (via author’s website): Self-harm, child abuse, parental illness, blood/gore, explicit violence, possession leading to degradation of mental state
The Devil Makes Three is certainly and eerie and exciting book, though I did have a few mixed feelings, so let’s break it down!
What I Liked:
- The setting and atmosphere were great! I mean, half the book happens in the creepy old library, what isn’t to love?! It takes place at a boarding school, during the summer when basically few people are around, which makes it extra sketchy. Like, what is worse than the devil at your boarding school? The devil at your boarding school with minimal supervision.
- Eliot’s story gave me all the feels. From the start, I liked Eliot, even when Tess did not. It was clear he wasn’t the jerk his father was, and it wasn’t also clear that he wasn’t trying to summon dark forces for funsies. Dude just wanted to save his mom, and I really loved his concern for her.
- It is dark. And I like dark! This book does not mess around. The demon is not friendly, he isn’t cute, he is just awful and willing to do whatever it takes to keep on keepin’ on. He’ll kill, maim, take over bodies, whatever. And he extra loves messing with Tess.
- I liked that Tess and Eliot had to rely on each other. Especially for Tess, who basically was used to carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, I loved that she had to finally learn to trust people, be it Eliot, her roommate, her aunt. It helped with the character growth during the book, too, to see how she changed as this mess went on.
What I Didn’t:
- The pacing felt slow in parts. Fine, that is kind of a nice way of saying I was bored for a bit? But I was. Eventually it does get better, but I’d say I had some problems for at least half.
- I don’t fully get why demons are around? Or witches, for that matter. Like, is this just something that exists now? It wasn’t really explained, and you know I love me some explanations.
Bottom Line: Very atmospheric, if a bit slow paced at times, but overall a decent story.
Sliding Doors meets Life After Life in Sarah Adlakha's story about a wife and mother who is given the chance to start over at the risk of losing everything she loves.
A second chance is the last thing she wants.
When thirty-nine year old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son.
But she also knows that, in only a few weeks, a devastating tragedy will strike her husband, a tragedy that will lead to their meeting each other.
Can she change time and still keep what it’s given her?
Exploring the responsibilities love lays on us, the complicated burdens of motherhood, and the rippling impact of our choices, She Wouldn't Change a Thing is a dazzling debut from a bright new voice.
What would you do if you woke up more than two decades younger? Some of us (present company included) would be pretty stoked for a do-over. Maria was not among those people. She loved the life she crafted for herself and her family, and is quite content with her choices. Being thrown back into her teen years is not at all what she’d wanted, certainly not what she expected.
She Wouldn’t Change a Thing pulls at the heartstrings as it navigates these incredibly difficult questions. Obviously, the reader cannot help but feel for Maria in this situation, and the author does such a tremendous job of making us feel her despair and trepidation. Not only that, but it makes the reader think long and hard about what we ourselves would do in Maria’s shoes. Could you sacrifice everything, everyone you loved, to save one person? Could you even trust yourself, your very sanity, upon traveling back through time? There is so much at stake, but it is so mind-bending that it adds an extra layer to an already tense and emotional situation.
The writing too is gorgeous, and makes Maria’s story that much more moving. The author also does a wonderful job of fleshing out even the more minor characters, so every single person’s story feels important. I also loved how much the story connects so many different people together, through different time periods. I won’t say much else about that, but when you wonder why certain people have chapters in the mix, it absolutely will eventually all make sense to you. Frankly, I could not put this book down, as I was simultaneously invested in Maria’s personal story as well as figuring out the mystery of how and why she traveled through time.
Bottom Line: Incredibly moving and thought provoking, She Wouldn’t Change a Thing captured me and never let go.
P.S.- My mom loved it too!
J. S. Dewes continues her fast paced, science fiction action adventure with The Exiled Fleet, where The Expanse meets The Black Company--the survivors of The Last Watch refuse to die.
The Sentinels narrowly escaped the collapsing edge of the Divide.
They have mustered a few other surviving Sentinels, but with no engines they have no way to leave the edge of the universe before they starve.
Adequin Rake has gathered a team to find the materials they'll need to get everyone out.
To do that they're going to need new allies and evade a ruthless enemy. Some of them will not survive.
I loved The Divide and was so excited to start The Exiled Fleet. Turns out, I loved it even more. This series absolutely slays. It’s equal parts emotional and funny and exciting, and does such a perfect job of balancing out the action and character development. The entire concept of the world is exciting, because it asks the questions we all wonder, like “is there an end to the universe?”, or “are we alone?”, and answers with exciting and believable concepts.
As in the first installment, the characters stole my heart. Adequin is going through some stuff that would be spoilers for the first book, but she also has to step up and be the leader her people need. It’s not easy, trying to survive at the edge of nowhere, especially when it seems no one else in the universe particularly wants you to survive. She goes through a lot in this book, including a great deal of personal growth and development. In large part, this is due to her friendship with Cavalon, who has really taken to his new position as one of the best minds of the crew. He still has so much self-doubt, and frankly, trauma from his upbringing, but he is trying.
There are so many bananas revelations and twists throughout the book that I never, ever wanted to put it down. My mind was blown over and over, and the characters were as awesome as before- perhaps even more, since they have undergone such growth and development. There are still plenty of lighter moments to help balance out some of the darker, rougher stuff, and it’s a perfect blend.
Bottom Line: Frankly, I love every single thing about this series, and need a third book stat.