The first installment in a duology, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber is a fantasy, adventure, and romance story all rolled into one. It features Wren Greenrock and her twin sister, Rose Valhart. The two girls were separated at birth and raised in diverse locales with different values and perspectives. Rose has lived the life of a pampered princess at Anadawn Palace while Wren grew up near the Whisperwind Cliffs beside the ocean in a commune of witches. Now that Rose is about to be crowned queen, her grandmother has determined that a witch would better serve the kingdom of Eana. So, sheRead More →

Set in a world similar to our current reality but not quite, The Darkening by Sunya Mara is a study of both psychology and sociology. Mara explores the consequences of classism and social hierarchies while also taking a deep dive into the effects of despair, vengeance, hate, pain, and anger. In the process, she also asks some critically important questions worthy of soul-searching. Seventeen-year-old Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries and refers to herself as “a hopeful little screwup from the fifth ring” (216). Her father’s fear has kept her safe, but Vesper wonders if it is wrong to want more out of lifeRead More →

Based on the web comic from WEBTOON, Crumbs by Danie Stirling is a fantasy romance featuring characters Ray and Laurie. A number of this graphic novel’s scenes occur in a bakery owned by Laurie’s Aunt Marigold, who names pastries after enchantment spells she has concocted. A seer who attends Council Academy, Ray wants to put her visions to good use. The novel’s second protagonist, Laurie Garcia aspires to be a world famous musician who plays sold-out concerts in which the entire audience sings along. Yet neither character has a straight route to that sought-after goal. Ray struggles with parental expectations and her own assurance thatRead More →

Although an important book about exploitation, genocide, and identity—one inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology—Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye is difficult to read. Trapped in a world of monsters who will eat her alive should they realize she’s the enemy, Sloane Shade lives under Lucis rule and tyranny. Ten times more horrifying than the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the ruling class and its military are pitting children against children, training them to kill or be killed. Bound by the Lucis law regarding conscription, when a child turns fifteen, he or she reports for training for a war against the Shadow Rebels. Such is the fate ofRead More →

Alechia Dow writes an intriguing speculative story with her novel The Kindred. Her two protagonists—as is everyone else in the Monchuri system—have been linked with since birth. The Kindred program was created after The Second Chaos, a revolution in which the poor rose up demanding that their voices be heard by the rich. Maru’s top scientists created the mind pairing idea as a solution. Because those who are paired come to know each other’s thoughts so intimately, they often marry. However, in the case of Joy Abara and Felix Hamdi, a pairing is unlikely since he’s of royal blood and in line for the throneRead More →

Many readers have found fictional worlds fascinating; some of us might even wonder what it would be like to live in such an alternate reality. Adelle Casey and Connie Rollins have been enamored by the Victorian era novel Moira by Robin Amery for years. Although Adelle is attracted to the esoteric and the occult, Connie is much more practical. With a heart as big as her fanciful imagination, Adelle tends to be in love with the worlds found in books rather than with the world going by all around her. As a result, her interests lean towards topics like astrology, tarot, wizards, vampires, werewolves, orRead More →

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson is a fascinating book about two sisters: Myra, a seventeen-year-old painter with dreams of securing a full-ride scholarship to the Conservatory for Music and the Arts; and Lucy, a thirteen-year-old aspiring biologist who hopes to improve the environment, save endangered animals, and change the world with her discoveries. With the sudden disappearance of both their mother and father, Myra’s whole world unravels. Abandoned and without resources, the two Whitlock girls can scarcely afford food and rent, let alone the medical care Lucy needs as her illness worsens. A prisoner of guilt and loneliness, Myra doesn’t know howRead More →

For those who enjoy science, especially physics, The Upper World by Femi Fadugba is a must-read. This is a fascinating book set in South London and featuring two sixteen year olds: Esso Adenon and Nadia Black in the present and fifteen year old Rhia in the future—with lots of time travel to the past mixed in. Every time Esso tries to stay out of trouble and every time he promises his Mum from the trenches of his soul to be good, trouble seems to still find him. Such is the case in Fadugba’s novel after Esso uses hidden energy to save a young boy fromRead More →

The Shattered Castle is Book Five in the Ascendance Series by Jennifer Nielsen, and it is as rich with action and adventure as it is filled with lessons for living an honorable life. When Jaron Artolius Eckbert the Third defeated the Prozarian Army, he stole the Devil’s Scope and kept the secret for himself. Now he must not only defend Carthya from the vengeful Prozarians and protect his kingdom and his throne from the power-hungry Castor Veldergrath but win back the trust he lost from Imogen, who is furious with him for this betrayal. Nielsen weaves her plot with mastery and creates her characters withRead More →