Dark, gruesome, and captivating, The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker is Book One in a planned duology. In this first installment, Baker writes the story of an angry biracial girl—Ren Scarborough—who is trying to find out where she belongs. This feeling of being half and not whole, as well as the label foreigner haunts Ren, following her from London, England, where she serves as a Reaper, to Japan where Ren was born a Shinigami. In both roles, Ren, who is a descendent of darkness—made not of flesh and blood but of Death and Time—works for Death. This servitude is supposed to be sacred,Read More →

A magical and enchanting tale of adventure, The Color of Dragons by R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis will likely intrigue readers of Christopher Paolini or Anne McCaffrey. Besides a story about finding one’s self, Salvatore and Lewis tell a story about love, loyalty, and other things worth fighting for. Seventeen-year-old Maggie and Griffin are both orphans trying to find their place in the world. Just as Griffin must decide if his place is with the corpulent and greedy King Umbert serving as his champion: “Sir Griffin, the mighty Draignoch Slayer” (92), Maggie must determine whether she owes allegiance to Xavier, the magician and perhaps theRead More →

Readers of M.T. Anderson and Ben Oliver will likely appreciate Sacha Wunsch’s recent release, Lies My Memory Told Me. This dystopian thriller follows the story of quiet, sixteen-year-old Nova Reynolds and her friends Andi and Kade as they work to solve the mystery of what Experion Enterprises is attempting with their new technology called Enhanced Memories. Enhanced Memories (EM) are originally created to be “nothing but good,” a magical solution to safely giving people access to experiences to enhance their quality of life: travel without the expense, a lived experience that delivers empathy and nuances of living another life, and ultrarealistic entrainment without the riskRead More →

Taking place in 19th century England, this book begins with torture and intrigue. Immediately we’re dropped into a London full of smog and flickering lanterns. The world is cold and merciless, setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil. Will, the protagonist, finds himself hiding in London after his mother is murdered. It doesn’t take long for Will’s enemies to find him and when they do Will is thrust into a magical world he didn’t know existed. He is revealed to be the last champion for the Light, the last barrier standing between the world that he knows and one that isRead More →

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley gets a major update with The Block by Ben Oliver. In Oliver’s second book in The Loop Trilogy targeted for young adults, readers will experience a video game vibe, like that achieved in The Matrix. Along with the characters, they will wonder what is real and what is simulated. In this new dystopian world, everybody’s happy because Happy—an artificial intelligence—rules the world.  Galen Rye is in charge, and he decides who suffers as a battery—without hopes, dreams, and ambitions as they power the world with their energy harvested from pain, fear, and anger.  He decides who should be brainwashed intoRead More →

Seventeen-year-old Ambrose Cusk and another spacefarer, Kodiak Celius, are aboard the Coordinated Endeavor, a spaceship bound for Saturn’s moon Titan to rescue Ambrose’s sister, Minerva Cusk. Earth’s two remaining countries, Fédération and Dimokratía have combined their forces to accomplish this mission. Brought together by a crisis, each young man brings his expertise and biases to the mission. Ambrose’s skills include playing the violin, programming AIs, translating computer code, and having a high awareness of his feelings.  Kodiak’s gifts are piloting, mechanical engineering, survivalism, and hand-to-hand combat. The Dimokratía space program selects its spacefarers by testing millions of children in its orphanages and determining those whichRead More →

Set on Wilneff Island in Nova Scotia, Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel The Girl from the Sea revolves around the life of fifteen-year-old Morgan Kwon.  Morgan likes to keep her life tucked neatly into boxes, but she finds that plan unraveling when she meets Keltie. Keltie brings a sort of wild, chaotic, fairy-tale magic to Morgan’s otherwise grounded life. Keltie is a selkie, a seal who transforms into a human to walk on land for a period of time.  It is Morgan’s kiss that provides the magic for the transformation. But Morgan wants to keep that part of her life hidden from her friends Serena, Lizzie,Read More →

Readers who followed the paranormal romances in Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series, Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, or Alisa Valdes’ The Temptation will likely find Sangu Mandanna’s debut novel, The Lost Girl, thrilling.  Besides the interesting love triangle to fuel the plot, however, Mandanna adds adventure, mystery, and a twist on New Zealand folklore.  With a science fiction “what if” style, the novel also poses some provocative questions about creating life through processes that parallel cell regeneration or even cloning.  Given these features, the book transcends the typical romance novel to become deeply philosophical. Despite her name, which means immortal one, Amarra knows life’s limitations.  Created withoutRead More →

Dragonfly Girl by Marti Leimbach is a fast-paced thriller.  Although the plot is somewhat disjointed and ends rather abruptly, Leimbach’s novel kept me intrigued with its science fiction elements, espionage-like features, and shady criminal types. I’m guessing a sequel will follow. Set in California, Sweden, and Russia, the novel features seventeen-year-old Kira Adams whose mother is sick and requires constant medical care that draws down the household’s monetary resources. Given that Kira’s preternaturally gifted father turned to alcohol to cope in a world that didn’t understand him and eventually “catches a stray bullet,” Cyril Adams is not in the picture. Therefore, Kira enters science contestsRead More →