The Elizas by Sara Shepard (★★★☆☆½)
Sara Shepard’s latest adult novel is a thriller that features some of my favorite writing mechanisms, including an unreliable narrator and a story within a story. Unfortunately, like the majority of Shepard’s young adult novels, there is a heavy reliance on doubles (no more doppelgangers or twins ever again, please!), and the novel doesn’t get really interesting until about a third of the way through … before completely losing the plot again shortly thereafter.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (★★★★☆½)
Historical fantasy meets alternate history in this much happier and way more fantastical re-imagining of the life of Lady Jane Grey (AKA the Nine-Day Queen). Told by the trio now known as the Lady Janies, My Lady Jane follows book-loving Jane Grey, who lives in a world where some people can turn into animals. Unbeknownst to Jane, she’s going to be named next in line to the throne by her dying cousin, and she’s about to be married off to a man who is sometimes a horse. Sure it’s super wacky, but it’s also really funny and charming.
Frostblood by Elly Blake (★★★☆☆½)
I had a lot of trouble with the first 75% of Frostblood. Despite being blessedly fast-paced (the only thing that kept me going), the beginning of Blake’s book has a predictable plot that I’ve already read a million times over. Spoilers: the magical girl who can control fire is going to be the chosen one who falls in love with the attractive yet damaged man who can control ice. Thankfully, all that turned around when I got to meet the real villain of the story. Thanks for saving this entire series evil frost king!
Legendary by Stephanie Garber (★★★★★)
Get ready for Caraval, but EVEN better! Told from the POV of spunky and far superior Dragna sister Tella, Legendary takes place not in an imaginary land created by the mysterious Legend, but in the real life capital city of Valenda, and for once, Caraval may be very real indeed. Full of amazing world building, fun characters, fabulous clothing, mouthwatering food and a fearless heroine, I promise you won’t even miss your friends from book one. Sorry Scarlett. Sorry Julian.
The Walking Dead Vol. 30: New World Order by Robert Kirkman (★★★★☆)
Get ready for tearful reunions and a brand-new community with questionable motives. Yes, another one. The latest collection in the Walking Dead series is not terrible, but it’s not terribly exciting either as things are slowly set in motion for the next arc. Is this merely a filler trade setting us up for the next big bad? Probably. But at least everyone’s new fan favorite the Princess is around to make things interesting.
Every Exquisite Thing by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson (★★★★★)
The latest Ghosts of the Shadow Market short story has it all: demon pox jokes, lady on lady romancing, and a cross-dressing Lightwood who prefers to look like a true gentleman. Unlike the rest of the shorts in the series, this one is only kind of about Jem, and mostly about how you should always live your truth, no matter what society thinks. Spoilers: the Shadowhunter parents are not terrible in this one. Whaaa?
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (★★★★☆)
Semi-inspired by Russian history, fairy tales and folklore, Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale is a beautifully written story about a headstrong girl named Vasilisa who doesn’t like that women only have two choices: marriage or getting thee to a nunnery. Shunned by society for her witchy ways (read: her ability to see spirits), Vasilisa unkowingly gains the attention of a certain
Goblin King king of winter who needs her help to save humanity. While a tad on the slow side, this series is worth the wait for the lush writing, the stories within the story, and the super fun to pronounce Russian names.
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (★★★★☆½)
The penultimate book in the Ember quartet was two years in the making and well worth the wait, even if you have to read a recap to remember what everyone has been up to. Reminder: no one’s doing great. While not as exciting as the other books in the series — because there was definitely some dragging in the middle there — the ending was everything, and set up some really great things for the finale. Can’t all my friends just get the happy ending they deserve?