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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Claire L has caught the Shadowhunter bug and is diving in with The Infernal Devices Series! Check our her review of book #1 in the series below.

When Tessa Gray travels to London to visit her brother, she discovers that he is missing. Suddenly, Tessa is thrown into a world she never knew existed: a world of danger. In this world, Shadowhunters, descendents of the Angel Raziel, battle demons to save the human race. Guiding Tessa through this confusing new world are Shadowhunters Will and Jem. Together, they race to find her brother and unravel the secrets that have entrapped him. As she learns about her new environment, Tessa learns more about herself.

Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, the first book in The Infernal Devices trilogy, the prequel to The Mortal Instruments series, is set in the late 1800s in London. The fantastical and historical elements of the story work to create a lush world in which the reader is quickly immersed. Although this is not Clare’s first book about the Shadowhunters, her consistent and detailed world-building allows new readers to be able to begin with this new trilogy and still understand the intricacies of the Shadowhunter world. Furthermore, Clare’s technique of incorporating serene moments in between intense fighting helps balance the story. She also begins to develop possible romances that further engage the reader. Cassandra Clare’s expertly crafted Clockwork Angel integrates rich story lines and compelling characters, making it hard for the reader to leave this magical world.

Books: 
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781481456029
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - September 1st, 2015

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor

Here's more from Marly B - 

After Lydia’s terminally ill mother dies, she is uprooted from her home and moves in with her Aunt Brat in a tiny farming town in Connecticut. As she adjusts, a beautiful yellow dog finds its way into the home of Lydia’s new family. The dog whines all night when crated, pees on rugs, has found a way to slip out of his collar, and proves to be a general nuisance. Lydia expects the dog to figure out how to behave eventually, but he’s not showing any signs of improving. The key to training him could be knowing his past, but with only the phone number of his old owner, Lydia will have to do a bit more digging to find out where the dog that stole her heart came from.

After reading Leslie Connor’s previous book, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, I had fairly high expectations for A Home for Goddesses and Dogs. Conner absolutely destroyed them and wrote an amazing book centered around grief and growing up. It felt like a breath of fresh air with its amazing characters and beautiful plot. 

One of the first things I notice about A Home for Goddesses and Dogs is that the cast is almost entirely female. The second thing I noticed is all of the female characters are incredibly fleshed out and diverse. I don’t think I could name a middle-grade book that comes close to having better written females. The characters' interactions with each other are hilarious and realistic and just lovely in general. The relationships throughout were very tender and heartwarming which was helped by the brilliant character designs and developments. Also, the fact that there was no mean-girl troupe was appreciated greatly. We need tons more books with healthy female relationships and this book covers that very very well, both with Lydia’s parental figures and her friendships with the other girls at her school.

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs handles grief in a pretty unique way. Since Lydia’s mother was terminally ill, Lydia already had time to come to terms with her death for the most part, so it mostly handles adjusting after a loved one dies. It shows Lydia missing her mom, but it also shows her learning to form relationships with the new adults in her life. It deals with grief in a way that feels very real, showing it as an adjustment in life rather than an end to it. 

I give Leslie Conner so much respect for writing realistic preteen/teen conversations. Authors have a tendency to either make preteens sound like preschoolers or tiny fifty-year-olds, but Conner definitely avoided that. Not only does she write teens well, she writes thirteen-year-olds well. The discussions Lydia has with her friends feel like things my friends and I would have talked about when we were thirteen. She totally captures that weird between middle and highschool stage perfectly and brilliantly.  

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs is a book everyone should consider reading. It’s heartwarming and hilarious and just amazing in general. Despite its subject matter, it’s really a pretty happy read. I give A Home for Goddesses and Dogs a 4.75/5. Go read it!

Books: 
A Home for Goddesses and Dogs Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062796783
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - February 25th, 2020

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Here's Claire L from our Teen Advisory Corps with some backlist love for Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson.

Emily was looking forward to spending the summer with her best friend, Sloane, until she realizes that Sloane has completely disappeared and only left behind a list for Emily. Though it is not the first list she has received, this one is different because it contains all the things that Emily had been afraid to do before. Usually not one to complete these lists, Emily convinces herself that the only she will see Sloane again is if she can complete each item. In the process, she meets Frank, Dawn, and Collins, who help her to find her courage and support her endeavors. With her new friends, Emily is able to discover new sides of herself in an unforgettable summer.

 

A story of friendship, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is an enjoyable read that I was unable to put down. I loved the whole premise of Sloane’s list for Emily. Though each item was a challenge, I admire the consideration that Sloane put into the list. Furthermore, I enjoyed seeing Emily become more confident with herself as she checked off items. I also loved the friendship that Frank and Emily have. Frank is such a charismatic and kind character who never failed to warm my heart. Moreover, all of the relationships featured in this story feel genuine and real—I would love to be apart of this friend group—and I appreciate Matson’s focus on friendship. Plus, Matson’s writing is wonderful as she is able to make you smile, laugh, and cry all at the same time (in the best way possible). Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is a heartwarming story about friendship and newly discovered confidence.

Books: 
Since You've Been Gone Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781442435018
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 5th, 2015

The Black Bull of Norroway by Cat Seaton

Here's Marley from our Teen Advisory Corps charging in with a review of the graphic novel Norroway: The Black Bull of Norroway

Sibylla has always been prophesied to marry the black bull of Norroway, a knight so bloodthirsty he was cursed to live as a bull. When he shows up, claiming her as his wife and telling her to prepare for a long journey, she isn’t surprised. She is however, surprised to learn that there is more to his curse than is told. 

 The Black Bull of Norroway is the first graphic novel in the Norroway series. The plot is based on a Scottish fairy tale, and reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast. Short but very sweet, it was a very fun read, both through the art and the writing.

The art style alone is worth the read, it aided in making the entire book feel wonderfully whimsical. This could just be because Beauty and the Beast was on my mind, but the art definitely reminded me of Disney. The clothing looked very flowy and light, and every movement felt fluid. The characters were drawn amazingly, each design unique and detailed. The buildings were especially well drawn. There were a couple of drawings that I spent a couple minutes looking at the architecture and details of the buildings instead of actually reading the book. 

Adding to the great art, the storytelling is great. It’s a retelling, but it adds its own flavor and spice to the original. The characters were fleshed out in a new way and it felt like a completely new story. The personality of every character is thoroughly developed and explored. It doesn’t just retell the story, it adds much more to it.

I do have a very minor critiqu. The characters physical design was unique, but some of the characters felt cliche. They didn’t really offer anything unique from other books’ characters. Sibylla has a bit of a flat personality, which is kind of expected because there wasn’t much time to develop her character but I do hope that in the next book we will see that more. 

I really liked this one, and I definitely want more of it. It’s short, but still manages to progress the plot enough to invest readers. I think the next book has a lot to offer and I’m interested to see how it turns out. I’d give The Black Bull of Norroway a ⅘ and will be looking out for the second book.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Norroway Book 1: The Black Bull of Norroway Cover Image
By Cat Seaton, Kit Seaton (Artist)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781534308558
Availability: Backordered
Published: Image Comics - November 13th, 2018

Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

Teen Advisory Corps Marren goes deep into the woods this time with Shea Earnshaws Winterwood

In the mountain town of Fir Haven rumors weave through the people like roots.

Some say rumors aren’t true, but deep down everyone knows that rumors are how we admit the terrifying truths that surround us. Like how on the night of a winter storm a boy goes missing, the power goes out and the only road down the mountain is snowed in. 

Nora walker and all her ancestors are rumored to be witches. Each one of them is born with a shadow side. The part of them that makes them different from everyone else. Nora is convinced she’s the only walker to ever be born without a shadow side, that is until she finds the missing boy in the woods and strange things start to happen. In order to save everyone she loves Nora will need to believe in herself and bring out her shadow side before it’s too late. 

 

Books: 
Winterwood Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534439412
Availability: Backordered
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - November 5th, 2019

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Teen Advisory Corps member Marren was carried away by the evocative work by Julia Drake, The Last True Poets of the Sea. She says:

16 year old Violet believes their family is cursed to “wreck” because of the mysterious perseverance of her great-great-great grandmother Feidlia. Who was the lone survivor of a shipwreck called, The Lyric . She becomes even more frightened of her theory when her younger brother Sam attempts suicide. Soon after Violet is sent to her mother’s childhood home in Lyric, Maine. The town founded by her great-great-great grandmother. While Sam braves a treatment facility in Vermont, Vi faces her own demons only a couple hours away. With the help of friends and a new-found love, Violet searches for the remains of The Lyric, hoping that if she can piece back together what happened to Feidlia, it will be enough to piece together her family. 

    THE LAST TRUE POETS OF THE SEA is a deeply honest book about putting the wreckage of your mistakes behind you and finding the courage to truly live. 

 

Books: 
The Last True Poets of the Sea Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781368048088
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 1st, 2019

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed.

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire L enjoyed Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed. 

Jamie and Maya were close in pre-school, but have since found new interests. Aspiring politician, Jamie, has his summer booked: volunteering for a state senator candidate’s campaign. However, though he would love to canvas, his work has mostly been behind the scenes due to his worries about public speaking. Maya on the other hand, was prepared to spend the summer with her best friend, who is going to college. When her friend becomes too busy to spend time with her, Maya’s summer suddenly has an opening. Not wanting her daughter to be moping around all summer, Maya’s mother suggests that she canvas with Jamie. Never having cared that much about politics, Maya is unconvinced. But as Jamie and Maya spend more time together, it turns out that canvassing can be fun when you have the right person to canvas with.

 

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed is an inspiring story about two teens trying to make a difference in their community. First of all, I am so happy to see two young adult authors addressing politics with their story; it is not often that politically active teens are showcased in young adult books. Especially considering that Jamie and Maya are unable to vote, I am glad to see the story focuses on the other ways you can become involved with a campaign. In addition, I loved Jamie and Maya’s unexpected friendship. Though they were friends when they were younger, they have since learned more about themselves and who they want to be. But throughout the book they discover that their ambitions overlap more than they expected. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed is a hopeful story that exudes optimism for the future of the nation.

Pre-Order your copy today, and check out more from our Teen Advisory Corps below!

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Yes No Maybe So Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780062937049
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 4th, 2020

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

Twin brothers Emil and Brighton have grown up wanting to be Celestials, hoping to one day inherit magical powers. With a youtube channel dedicated to magic powers, Brighton hasn’t quite let go of their childhood fantasies, but Emil has changed his dreams to advocating for phoenixes and other mythical creatures. So when Emil is the one to discover fire powers in the middle of a subway fight, Brighton is a tiny bit jealous. While Brighton struggles to prove himself, Emil tries to cope with new powers and responsibilities, all while trying to stop a murderous gang leader from gaining immortality. 

Adam Silvera did not disappoint with Infinity Son. Taking place in modern day New York City, it’s a cross between a superhero novel and a fantasy novel, similar tropes to superheroes, but still has the mythical creatures and fantastical elements. 

To start off, I love the modern day element of Infinity Son. I thought the politics were particularly interesting, showing how magic might be treated in society today. It’s also fun to read about how normal people use their powers and what people who don’t have powers think about them. 

Silvera did a good job of writing realistic characters. The characters have powers, but aren't overpowered. Even the most powerful characters are beatable. The fight scenes are suspenseful because there is a possibility that the good side will lose, and they actually do frequently. Aside from the powers, he also gives the characters sensible emotions. Brighton especially, he gets jealous and upset when he feels he’s being overlooked or underestimated, but he isn’t portrayed as evil just because he feels negative emotions and is still a lovable character with good attributes. The other characters argue and get upset with each other unreasonably sometimes, giving more weaknesses to characters that could easily be overpowered.

The world building was very well thought out, but specifically the way that magic is viewed and the way that it’s handled by the police was a great touch to the world. Celestials are either vilified or glorified by people without powers, and the problems with each are shown. At some point in the story both sides give issues to the protagonists. Adding crime rings and other criminals into the magical realm felt very unique in the way that it was written. A black market for mythical creatures and making magical drugs added a very gritty element to the story, and gave more background for some of the villains. 

I don’t have any complaints about Infinity Son other than some of the writing during fight scenes. It was hard to tell what was going on in a couple of the scenes. There were a couple of times where there seemed to be pauses in battles for two characters to talk. I think there was supposed to still be things going on around the characters, or maybe the space where the fight was taking place was really big so they had space, but it felt a bit stilted.

I enjoyed Infinity Son, I’ll definitely be reading the next book. The characters and world building itself is worth sticking around for, but also I need some closure for the ending... I’d rate Infinity Son a 4.5/5, and I would recommend it to any fantasy lover.

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062457820
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - January 14th, 2020

Girls of July by Alex Flinn

Britta is a bubbly social butterfly, looking for a getaway from her life. Meradith is the overachiever who's only focus is college - she needs a break. Kate is the rich, Georgia debutante hiding from a family scandal. Spider is the film obsessed loner who's disabiliy has serparted her from her peers her whole life. So when spider and her grandmother post an ad for a month lopng vacation in the Adirondacks, the other girls jump at the chance. They don't know that one month in the mountains is exactly what they need. 

Britta, Meradith, Kate and Spider are all very different people. So when they end up spending the month in the mountains together, things don't go smoothly at first. But after a while the girls form a fierce bond and come out of it knowing themselves better than before. In the book the diverse collection of characters paint a beautiful picture of the worlds ups and downs. Girls of July shares a message about taking action when something goes wrong instead of sitting back and waiting it out. 

Books: 
Girls of July Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062447838
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - June 4th, 2019

Loveboat Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Having just finished a stressful senior year, Ever Wong is looking forward to the summer months before college. But when her parents announce that she will be going to Taiwan for a Mandarin immersion program, her original plans are ruined. Ever’s parents have always had high standards for her, and she worries this camp will involve similar expectations. However, as soon as she arrives, she learns that while the program is full of successful teens, they too are looking for freedom from their parents’ watchful eye. Nicknamed Loveboat by the students, the immersion program doubles as an opportunity to meet people, and maybe even date them.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is a fun read that explores the excitement and thrill of freedom. The adventures of Ever and her fellow campers include intriguing glimpses of Taiwanese sights and experiences. In addition, the adrenaline rush of the characters’ joys and discoveries are shared with you so that you feel as if you are part of the adventure, too. Furthermore, the plot develops in a riveting way that keeps you on the edge of your seat; you never know what the group will get up to next. Another enjoyable aspect of the story was Ever’s growing self-confidence. Her character development encourages you to stick up for what matters most to you. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is the perfect combination of romance, adventure, and self-discovery.

Books: 
Loveboat, Taipei Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062957276
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - January 7th, 2020

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