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[June 2022] Book of the Month: Turning by Joy L. Smith

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Turning by Joy L. Smith was a clear choice for June’s Book of the Month. This novel cuts deep yet is so beautiful. The main character was a promising, black ballerina who was going to rock the ballet world with her talent before tragedy struck. Discovering the mystery behind it all made for an engrossing read. My emotions were all over the place. Turning has been one of my favorite reads and 2022 releases so far this year. I highly recommend reading Turning.

"Turning" by Joy L. Smith (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Title: Turning
Author: Joy L. Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Denene Millner Books / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.

Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Genie was the star pupil at her exclusive New York dance school, with a bright future and endless possibilities before her. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. The only wish this Genie has is to be left alone.

But then she meets Kyle, who also has a “used to be.” Kyle used to tumble and flip on a gymnastics mat, but a traumatic brain injury has sent him to the same physical therapist that Genie sees. With Kyle’s support, along with her best friend’s insistence that Genie’s time at the barre isn’t over yet, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.

But healing also means confronting. Confronting the booze her mother, a recovering alcoholic, has been hiding under the kitchen sink; the ex-boyfriend who was there the night of the fall and won’t leave her alone; and Genie’s biggest, most terrifying secret: the fact that the accident may not have been so accidental after all.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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[April 2022] Book of the Month: Storm Glass by Maria V. Synder

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I’m picking an oldie but goodie read to spotlight for April’s Book of the Month. Although Storm Glass by Maria V. Synder came out in 2009 (wow, I can hardly fathom that), I still remember the book and the trilogy it’s a part of with very fond memories. YA fantasy ruled my life then and Storm Glass, well, took my young bookish heart by storm (pun much intended).

A few things I loved: The main character, Opal, comes from a family of glassmakers. A new kind of magic emerges that has far-reaching effects. Kade, a Stormdancer and love interest, is as wonderful as he is confident. Teen me was certainly smitten. And, overall, the story was an engrossing, magical adventure.

I would recommend Synder’s Glass trilogy for any YA fantasy lovers.

"Storm Glass" by Maria V. Snyder (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Title: Storm Glass
Series: Glass #1
Author: Maria V. Synder
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Mira
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowan understands trial by fire. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan’s glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal’s unique talents to prevent it from happening again.

But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic. Yet the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear.

With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control her powers…powers that could lead to disaster beyond anything she’s ever known.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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[March 2022] Book of the Month: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

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My March Book of the Month pick is an outstanding read that shook me to my core. Today I’m spotlighting Skyhunter by Marie Lu. It’s a YA sci-fi dystopian that has an incredible main character, Talin, who communicates through sign language and helps defend the last free nation. She’s such a complex and compassionate character. I LOVED this book. I don’t normally care for dystopias but this one…this one was *chef’s kiss*.

It’s book one of a duology and the second book came out last year. However, I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t been emotionally ready to continue. The ending of book one was devastating and magnificent (if that’s even possible!). But I do plan to read Steelstriker (book 2) this year because I must. know. how. it. ENDS!

"Skyhunter" by Marie Lu (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Title: Skyhunter
Series: Skyhunter #1
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left… with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

Loyalty is life.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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[February 2022] Book of the Month: Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier

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There was not question in my mind on which book to pick for February’s Book of the Month. I easily chose Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier. Happy Pub Day! to this wonderful, moving read. Since I recently reviewed this book I won’t go on and on about how great it is. I’ll just say it’s a must read!

Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier
Image via NetGalley

Title: Just Right Jillian
Author: Nicole D. Collier
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Versify
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: In this heartfelt middle-grade novel from debut author Nicole D. Collier, fifth-grader Jillian must learn to speak and break free of her shell to enter her school’s academic competition and keep her promise to her grandmother.

Fifth-grader Jillian will do just about anything to blend in, including staying quiet even when she has the right answer. After she loses a classroom competition because she won’t speak up, she sets her mind on winning her school’s biggest competition. But breaking out of her shell is easier said than done, and Jillian has only a month to keep her promise to her grandmother and prove to herself that she can speak up and show everyone her true self.

A warm and relatable middle-grade debut novel about family, friendship, and finding the confidence to break free from the crowd and be who you truly are.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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[January 2022] Book of the Month: Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

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It’s the first Book of the Month post of 2022! I chose Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston. I chose this first of a series because it was an incredible fantasy story with a likable and relatable main characters, a bunch of supernatural beings, and unique world building. I was so captivated by this story. It was one of my top top favorite reads of 2021. I can’t wait to read what is sure to be a thrilling sequel, Amari and the Great Game.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston cover
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Title: Amari and the Night Brothers
Series: Supernatural Investigations #1
Author: B.B. Alston
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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[December 2021] Book of the Month: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

For my final Book of the Month of 2021, I’m spotlighting Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. Perhaps an odd choice for this time of year, but let me tell you, this book shocked me to the core in the most amazing of ways. It may be a book about death and thereafter but it is so much more than that. Funny, tumultuous, heartbreaking, and loving. I was crying by the end, it was so good! It easily became one of my top favorite reads of 2021. So I’m recommending this amazing book today, tomorrow, and forevermore.

Image via NetGalley

Title: Under the Whispering Door
Author: TJ Klune
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Romance, Contemporary Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Recommended?: Yes

NetGalley Summary: When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.

And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.

But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.

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[November 2021] Book of the Month: The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

For November’s Book of the Month, I wanted to choose a book that resonated with me. I chose The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison for its realness and the complexity of its characters. I really loved Regan and Guillermo’s characters and how throughout the story they prove they are more than what others perceive them to be. It’s a genuine and amazing story that’s all heart. Without a doubt a must read story.

Cover of The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison. Yellow background with title in blue text. Illustration of the main characters and a dog.Title: The Right Side of Reckless
Author: Whitney D. Grandison
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance, #OwnVoices
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Recommended?: Yes

NetGalley Summary: They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

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[October 2021] Book of the Month: A Pack of Blood and Lies by Olivia Wildenstein

For October’s Book of the Month, I’m spotlighting the first book of a captivating paranormal romance series called A Pack of Blood and Lies by Olivia Wildenstein.

I think this was the first book of the author’s I read and it was off the charts good. Ness is a remarkable main character you’ll be excited to root for. I loved this story a lot and the events that follows in the subsequent books were thrilling. Also, they are werewolves, which is always my cup of paranormal/supernatural tea. There’s mature content, so I’d recommend this to upper YA ages and older.

This also started out as a trilogy but the author is adding onto the series. I haven’t read book 4 yet, which came out earlier this year, but hopefully before the end of 2021.

The entirety of The Boulder Wolves series is available on kindle unlimited.

Image via NetGalley

Title: A Pack of Blood and Lies
Series: The Boulder Wolves #1
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Twig Publishing
Recommended?: Yes

Goodreads Summary: The primal rule of winning: don’t fall in love with the contender.

Three months shy of her eighteenth birthday, Ness is forced to return to Colorado. Even though it’s been six years, and the wolves of her all-male pack don’t recognize her, she recognizes them. People who shun others because of their gender are hard to forget.

Especially Liam Kolane—son of Heath, the crudest and cruelest Alpha to have ruled the Boulder Pack. Liam is as handsome as he is infuriating, as kind as he is punishing, and he makes Ness’s traitorous heart race, which isn’t good. After all, he’s a Kolane. Like father like son, right?

When Heath dies, Liam vies to become the new Alpha and no one dares to challenge him.

Except Ness.

Thus begins a treacherous game.

The rules: winner takes all…including loser’s life.

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[September 2021] Book of the Month: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

For September’s Book of the Month, I chose to spotlight The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross because it’s an incredible duology but also it kind of fits the back to school vibes I’m feeling right now. I highly recommend this story!

Image via Goodreads

Title: The Queen’s Rising
Series: The Queen’s Rising #1
Author: Rebecca Ross
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Recommended?: Yes

Goodreads Summary: When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved, some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. Who will be that queen?

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[August 2021] Book of the Month: Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

Title: Set Fire to the Gods
Series: Set Fire to the Gods #1
Authors: Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Recommended?: Yes

Goodreads Summary: Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash’s path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.