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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Marly B from our Teen Advisory Corps reviewed We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. One of this summers buzzy titles heres whta Marly had to say. 

The only person who has ever been able to navigate the Arz is Zafira. Not only does she return from the magical forest, she returns with food and animal skins. Zafira has been feeding the villages closest to the Arz for years, becoming a hero to the locals and a legend beyond that, known widely as the Hunter. When returning from a successful hunt one day, she is stopped by a mystical witch who slips a letter into her bag. The letter invites her to help save all of Arawiya by venturing into the island of Sharr, known for being used as a prison and the last place besides the Arz that still holds magic. She is sent to retrieve the Jawarat, a book that will prevent the Arz from consuming Arawiya and return magic to the five caliphates. However, she quickly realizes that she isn’t alone on the island, and some of the people she shares the ground with aren’t unfamiliar with taking lives. 

    We Hunt the Flame is Hafsah Faizal’s debut novel, and there’s not a lot to complain about! The setting, characters, pacing and plot were all very well written. 

    We Hunt the Flame is a fantasy book based off of ancient Arabia. It adds elements I haven’t seen in many fantasy books before and makes it stand out against others. I personally enjoyed the incorporation of turbans into common garb and use of sandy settings, for no other reasons other than it was a nice change of scenery for a fantasy novel. The setup of the caliphates was also a nice bit of variety that I appreciated.

    This book also does a nice job of having characters with different personalities. Despite introducing tons of characters at the same time they were easy to keep track of because of how varied their traits were. They were described very consistently which was great for remembrance, but also helped to really be able to know and understand them. The only complaint I have in this area is Kifah. She didn’t seem distinct from the other characters, and I can’t remember anything important she did to advance the plot. I don’t think the book would have changed all that much if she wasn’t written into it. 

    The story itself moved at a reasonable pace. A large part of the book is traveling and camping out, and Faizal did a great job of keeping even mundane things readable. The characters were well written so even when nothing was happening it was entertaining. The interactions between the characters and learning more about the magic system and history of Arawiya was interesting. 

I actually didn’t mind the romantic subplot in this book, which shouldn’t be taken lightly because most of the time I would rather eat nails than subject myself to that sort of torture (that might be slightly dramatic but only slightly). First off, the relationship developed fairly naturally. Insta-love was avoided and the characters stayed true to how they were written even as they became more attached. Faizal also avoided pushing the main plot of the story to the side in favor of the romance. She didn’t slow down the plot to let the relationship develop and didn’t add in pointless scenes to progress the relationship. Basically, the romantic subplot was actually subplot and didn’t hinder the story which I don’t usually see in fantasy or YA. I don’t think I’ve read a book that does romantic subplot as well as We Hunt the Flame does. 

We Hunt the Flame is a pretty darn good book, I do have a couple minor complaints though. Faizal describes a plethora of magical creatures throughout the novel, but there were only three creatures I can remember the characters interacting with, and only one of those we heard of more than once. Faizal did an amazing job of creating interesting creatures, I just wish I was introduced to more of them. 

The magic in the book caused some issues for me. For a book centered around magic, we don’t actually see it used a whole lot. I would accept that if there was an explanation on why. Are some things harder to do than others? Is there time limits between uses? Does it sap energy from the user? More clear ideas of the limits of magic would have been nice. It was hard to be impressed with the idea of limitless magic when there really wasn’t any idea of what magic with limits would be like. 

    I would give We Hunt the Flame a 3.75/5. I don’t think I want to read the second book, but I would definitely read another book by Hafsah Faizal. Her writing style is already fantastic and I can only imagine it will get better in her future books. 

Books: 
We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780374311544
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 14th, 2019

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Liu

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire R was entranced by Marie Liu's forthcoming The Kingdom of Back about Mozart's mysterious and largely forgotten sister.

The Kingdom of Back was an inspiring story that will make you want to learn about Wolfgang Mozart's sister, who quite clearly was almost forgotten. Marie Lu brings her into the picture, and displays her struggles as a female composer in the 18th century. But there was also a magical part of the story, the Kingdom of Back. There is another plot line intertwined in real life, involving her desire for fame, and toying with the ideas of imagination and reality. The Kingdom of Back is a perfect story for music and fantasy lovers, and you just might learn something as well.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Kingdom of Back Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781524739010
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - March 3rd, 2020

Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Claire L from our Teen Advisory Corps is at it again, with another rave review for author duo Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka and their new release Time of Our Lives, due out in April 2020, so preorder your copy today! Claire says:

Fitz has already decided that he is going to stay in New Hampshire, near his mom, for college. Wanting him to explore his options, Fitz’ mom sends him on a tour of college campuses. Juniper, on the other hand, is greatly anticipating the adventure of college. She has been planning and researching her great college tour for quite a while, and is looking forward to being able to find herself away from her large family. It is while attending the 10 A.M. tour of Boston University that Juniper and Fitz see each other for the first time. However, Fitz’ greater interest in his book than for the tour does not match Juniper’s enthusiasm for learning about the campus. But as their tours continue, they find their itineraries overlap and realize it must mean something. 


As expected from my favorite author duo, I absolutely loved Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka. The connection and relationship that develops between Fitz and Juniper is enjoyable to read. I especially appreciated the way they are able to help each other realize important qualities about themselves. In addition, the elements of family that were incorporated into the story helped to round the characters and reveal their true personalities, as well. I also enjoyed the travel-log of the various university campuses and exploration of the cities that house the universities. This inclusion allowed for me to feel as if I was touring the campuses right beside Juniper and Fitz. Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka was a delightful story to read that allowed me to be hopeful for the future of the characters.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Time of Our Lives Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781984835833
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - April 21st, 2020

Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire R recently review Rin Chupeco's new fairy tale re-telling Wicked As You Wish. She says:

The beginning was an explosion of facts setting up the story. The book should have had a more gradual set up, because the reader could be confused for the first few chapters of the story. Although after that, the story flowed much better. The characters were lovable and the conflict within them was intense. It is hard to use fairy tales without being cliche, and this story was anything but. I look forward to the sequel, if there is one, and recommend this story for middle school fantasy lovers.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Wicked as You Wish Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781492672661
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - March 3rd, 2020

Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Zoe from Teen Advisory Corps loved Wilder Girls by Rory Power - check out what she thought!

Despite its summer release, Wilder Girls is a very dark novel. Rory Power’s story transports readers to shadowy forests where sickness runs rampant. On an isolated island, the surviving students of a girl’s boarding school struggle to survive as disease transforms their bodies. Suspicion runs high as the girls have to decide whether to trust each other, the two remaining adults, and even the government that promises an eventual cure. Here we find Hetty, who gets by with the help of her friends Byatt and Reese. 

If that premise doesn’t make it obvious enough, Wilder Girls is a very addicting read. It’s the type of book designed to be read past bedtimes, although that may not be the best idea considering its eery content. Power really transports readers to the dilapidated Raxter School for Girls, and there’s enough twists and turns that it’s difficult to leave. 

Still, what really draws the story together is the relationships between the girls. The friendship between the three main characters pushes the plot along, and each relationship has a unique and interesting dynamic. They’re not always the most likable people, but that doesn’t make them any less intriguing. 

Though I did enjoy reading about these characters, there were times when I had trouble understanding their decisions. Especially toward the end, I felt that Hetty’s actions and thought processes could have been better handled and explained. Plus, a few reveals felt a little too out of the blue. Even when the chaos was a bit over-the-top, however, it was very difficult to stop reading. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend Wilder Girls. Just be prepared for a lot of daydreaming about different ways to escape from a diseased island alongside your closest friends. Or maybe that was just me.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Wilder Girls Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525645580
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - July 9th, 2019

Review: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Zoe from our Teen Advisory Corps had this to say about Pet by Akwaeke Emezi:

Sometimes seeing the world through the lens of fiction is the only way to understand reality. Stories have the power of distorting facts in a way that makes them only truer, by exaggerating ideas and concepts in order for readers to understand. Despicable human beings are turned into actual monsters. and those who fight against them become angels. And so it is in Akwaeke Emezi’s novel Pet, set in a world that has seemingly eradicated those monsters that are all too human

Or so it seems. The main idea Emezi explores in Pet is the dangers of believing whole-heartedly in a utopian society, of being blind to unsettling truths even as they grow increasingly obvious. Our protagonist, Jam, is forced to confront this dilemma when a creature named Pet calls upon her to help hunt a monster. And though Jam desperately wants to protect others from this monster, whoever it may be, that means letting go of what she’d always held to be true. 

Along with its important theme, Pet is also significant for its diversity. In this world Jam is free to be herself, a transgender girl who prefers communicating through sign language. The discussion of these attributes helps readers better understand others in the real world and could give readers someone to relate to when characters like Jam are infrequently depicted in media. 

Pet isn’t your typical YA novel. It somehow manages to be one of the most relevant and realistic books I’ve ever read in the genre while still including enough fantasy to bring creatures out of paintings. Some may find the themes to be too obvious or even political, but I believe its lessons are extremely important and universal. Pet is a short novel, but its pages just might contain the power to change the world.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Pet Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525647072
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Make Me a World - September 10th, 2019

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire enjoyed Bozeman grown author Tiana Smith's reading of her YA debut Match Me If You Can so much she devoured it in one night! She had this to say:

Homecoming is just around the corner, but Mia is still trying to find a date. Robyn, Mia’s best friend and the high school’s matchmaker, thinks that Logan, who always seems to be flirting with Mia, would be the perfect date. Unconvinced, Mia has her eyes on Vince, a soccer player for the school’s team. As much as Mia tries to convince Robyn that they are perfect for each other, Robyn will not match them together. Determined for Vince to ask her to homecoming, Mia logs on to Robyn’s email and against her wishes, matches them together. All is going well, especially when Vince asks her to homecoming at the soccer game. This is exactly what Mia wanted, but as they spend time together, she realizes how awkward it is. When Mia realizes her mind keeps on thinking of Logan, she is not sure which boy is her perfect match.

 

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith is an un-put-down-able romance that discusses the struggles of high school and high school relationships. Smith has an honest and genuine voice that truly conveys the thoughts of a high schooler and makes Mia’s situation more relatable. Balancing the love aspect of the story with other concerns such as scholarship opportunities and changing friendships adds to the genuinity of Mia’s life. And though there are times when it seems all hope is lost, Mia works to fix her mistakes, making her a loveable character. Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith is a hopeful and charming story about teen love.

Books: 
Match Me If You Can Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250168719
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Swoon Reads - January 8th, 2019

True Love and Happily-Ever-Afters with author Jennifer Ryan

We running into National Romance Month with Jennifer Ryan, and getting excited for Bookstore Romance Day on Saturday August 17th. Stop in to see these and more recs from author Jennifer Ryan and our booksellers. 

Something Old

Linda Lael Miller is one of my go-to western romance authors. Since it’s wedding season, I couldn’t help pulling out The Brides of Bliss County and diving into THE MARRIAGE PACT. 

You guessed it, Hadleigh and her two girlfriends make a pact to find a husband – something Hadleigh almost had, if not for Tripp busting in and stopping her wedding. He saved her from a huge mistake - not that she’d tell him that. Ten years later, Tripp is back and his best friend’s little sister is all grown up and he wants Hadleigh to be his wife.

This book is filled with friendship, loss, family bonds, and love that proves life is better when you have someone special in your life.

Something New

Janet Chapman is a longtime author, but she’s new to me, and I’m so glad I read IT’S A WONDERFUL WIFE! Set in beautiful Maine on a private island, this book is filled with humor, scandal, adventure, a bit of whimsy, and a romance that will suck you in. 

Jesse wants a wife like his brothers found with their partners and passel of kids. Cadi is looking for Mr. Right after her fake engagement ends in scandal. Jesse falls hard for the model-making Maine beauty when she shows him the custom house miniature he wants built on his island will only be a real home with her as his wife. All he has to do is keep her safe – and convince her he doesn’t need a New York socialite, but a loving a wife.

Something Borrowed

One of my favorite authors – and friend – Sophie Jordan always brings the sexy romance wrapped in a twisty plot. HOW TO LOSE A BRIDE IN ONE NIGHT is no exception.

She can’t stop thinking about Lisa Berne’s debut novel YOU MAY KISS THE BRIDE…

“…it fully swept me away. The book consumed me. It felt like the first time I read a romance novel and my eyes were opened to the genre. I could not put it down. All the characters felt like family and I can't remember ever being so invested in a hero and heroine's journey. I cared about their romance together but loved them each as individuals, too.”

Something Blue

I LOVE this beautiful Susan Wiggs cover!

Fans of the Lakeshore Chronicles have been waiting for this story, but you don’t have to read the whole series to love this book – though I bet you’ll love the whole series! 

In MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY Daisy has to decide between the two men who have been in her life since she was a troubled teenager. Making the right choice now still isn’t easy – but true love always pulls people together.

This warm, deep, tumultuous story will draw you in and make you feel like you’re part of the endearing family and community. You’ll root for Daisy to get the wedding of her dreams and the man who makes that dream perfect.    

I hope you enjoy all of these recommendations. 

Don’t miss my upcoming women’s fiction novel THE ME I USED TO BE Publishers Weekly called “…an intoxicating blend of hair-raising suspense, betrayal, and true love…”

I hope you enjoy it and all these books. Happy reading!

Books: 
The Marriage Pact Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780373778706
Availability: Not Currently Available to Order
Published: Hqn - May 27th, 2014

It's a Wonderful Wife (Sinclair Brothers Novel #1) Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780515155150
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - August 25th, 2015

How to Lose a Bride in One Night: Forgotten Princesses Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062033017
Availability: Backordered
Published: Avon - July 30th, 2013

You May Kiss the Bride: The Penhallow Dynasty Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062451781
Availability: Backordered
Published: Avon - March 28th, 2017

Marrying Daisy Bellamy Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780778317715
Availability: Backordered
Published: Mira Books - July 28th, 2015

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Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite, and Mirtza Moulite

Claire enjoyed Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Mirtza Moulite, She says:

Alaine, an aspiring journalist, has always looked up to her mom, the host of the popular news show Sunday Politicos. Tuning in to watch every episode from her home in Miami with her father, Alaine is able to “connect” with her mom. Being a feminist and believer of justice, her mom is not afraid to call out guests for saying the wrong things, but on one episode, her response seems uncharacteristic. Due to backlash, she travels home to Haiti to stay with her sister. When Alaine goes to school the days following, she faces a lot of reminders of her mom’s behavior in a not-s0-nice manner. Outraged by her peers reaction, Alaine takes a class assignment too far and ends up getting into a lot of trouble. Disappointed by Alaine’s actions, her father sends her to Haiti to volunteer at her aunt’s organization. It is then that Alaine learns some surprising information regarding her mom. Though it is not under the best circumstances, Alaine is glad to finally visit “the Homeland” and be able to spend time with her mom. And while she’s there, she learns more about her family’s past and what it could mean for the future. 

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite is an intriguing story that unravels through journal entries, letters, postcards, emails, and text messages. In addition to uncovering Alaine’s family history, you are immersed in Haitian culture. The glimpses of Haiti that are sprinkled throughout the book add to Alaine’s discoveries, and further immerses you. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite is an endearing story emphasizing the importance of family and leaves you thinking about the chances you would take for the people you love.

Books: 
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781335777096
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Inkyard Press - September 3rd, 2019

Review: What Makes Us by Rafi Mittelfeldt

Teen Advisory Corps member Marley enjoyed What Makes Us by Rafi Mittelfeldt. Pre-order your copy today!

"Eran Sharon is passionate, maybe a little too passionate. He is quick to anger and always seems to escalate any situation he’s in. After a video of him pushing a man at a protest goes viral, the press is quick to discover that the father Eran has never met was a terrorist. While news vans and reporters pile up at his door, Eran is left wondering if extremism is hereditary or if he has a chance to be different from his father.

    What Makes Us is the type of book that will make you think. It brings up the classic nurture/nature debate, asks if violent protest is different from terrorism, shows how media twists reality, etc. It definitely added an extra layer to the book, making the reader wonder alongside the characters about where they stand on these issues. 

    Rafi Mittlefehldt sometimes shifts into second person in his writing, which also added a level of connection to the characters. He makes the reader look through the eyes of his characters and see their perspective on issues. It made it easy to empathize with the characters.

    Eran’s character development felt very realistic. His development doesn’t start out of nowhere, there are a couple of triggers that spurr him forward along the way. Mittlefehldt shows him thinking about how he acts and how he wants to act as he works to control his anger. I appreciated how Eran slips up a couple of times before he starts to improve and still isn’t perfect by the end of the book. Sometimes it feels like YA books either have no character development or the character develops out of nowhere and is suddenly perfect by the end of the book, so having a book that actually had realistic development was a pleasant surprise. 

    To nitpick, some points in the book that were written to be giant shocking moments fell a bit flat. I think it might be because there were so many moments that were supposed to feel surprising that it wasn’t anymore. Some of the less important points were a tiny bit overwritten too, which might have contributed to that. 

    Overall, I really enjoyed What Makes Us. It was easy to get into, and the characters were likeable. The beginning reminded me of Anger is a Gift and the rest—especially Mittlefehldt’s writing style—reminded me of Picture Us In the Light. I’d give What Makes Us a solid ⅘ and I would recommend it to people who want a realistic book that deals with difficult issues without being too sad. 

Books: 
What Makes Us Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763697501
Availability: Backordered
Published: Candlewick - October 15th, 2019

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