For a debut novel, Renée Ahdieh writes a tale that captivates, intrigues, and fascinates in equal measure.  With threads of romance, fantasy, mystery, and adventure, she weaves a story with deftly drawn characters and colorful imagery. The female star, Shahrzad al-Khaysuran has been brave, loyal, stubborn, and unyielding for her sixteen years of life.  A measure of arrogance allows her to attempt the impossible, to break a cycle of human sacrifice.  She will avenge the murder of her best friend Shiva by volunteering to marry Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, the King of Rey, Khorasan.   As his bride, Shazi will find and exploit the king’s weakness andRead More →

Although occasionally bawdy with its vulgar language, illicit activities, and other questionable behaviors, Those Girls examines the lives of three girls attempting to deal with their insecurities, fears, and vulnerabilities about being pretty or talented or special.  In this debut novel by Lauren Saft, Mollie Finn, Alex Holbrook, and Veronica Collins have been BFFs since fifth grade, and their friendship has served as a life raft in the turbulent waters of private school at Harwin, an all-girls academy in Greencliff, Pennsylvania. But junior year—with its boy troubles and other social challenges—stretches the bonds of their friendship to the breaking point, and it might take moreRead More →

The quiet calm of the wait and the comfort of savory smells make cooking a favorite activity for Maddy, the protagonist in Jewell Parker Rhodes’ recent release, Bayou Magic.  Although she was born Madison Isabelle Lavalier Johnson, Maddy is often called Bird Bones because she is small and thin.  At ten years old, Maddy is not yet comfortable in her own skin, and she wonders why she sees the world differently than her four sisters do. Maddy prefers listening, watching, and dreaming.  Now it’s her turn to have a bayou summer, and her sisters, who each took their turn, warn her of all the drawbacksRead More →