5.  The Unliklies by Carrie Firestone

What it’s About:  A lunch honoring a group of homegrown teen heroes leads to the group of honourees banding together to right local wrongs.

What I Thought:  If you’re looking for a group of underdogs plotting revenge against the bullies and other bad guys of their world, this is not the book for you.  Try Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan instead.  This group goes the more feel good route of trying to cheer up the downtrodden, and even send gifts to the bullies, opting to kill with kindness rather than scheme for revenge.  It’s not all fluff though, as the group must deal with a drug addicted friend and one of them being in an unhealthy relationship.  Not a bad read, but not what I was expecting.

4.  Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

What it’s About:  Domino, a down on her luck teen living on the street, is offered a role in Madam Karina’s home for girl “entertainers”.  Domino quickly begins fighting her way up the ranks of the home, earning the ire of the other girls, and the interest of the mysterious Cain.  But Domino has another personality in her mind that could spell disaster for everyone.

What I Thought:  This is definitely a strange one.  Some people might have an issue with the fact that Domino’s mental illness seems to never really be fully delved into, but it’s certainly a book worth considering if you want to read something outside of the ordinary YA novel.

3.  The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty

What it’s About:  The unmarriable Sage is apprenticed to the kingdom’s matchmaker, and thus must travel with the to be wed girls and their military escort, only to find herself caught in the midst of a brewing rebellion.

What I Thought:  The pacing of this book is all over the place, with a slow burn in the first half of the book giving way to a chaotic ending.  The book has gotten some hate for featuring a white protagonist when it was originally marketed as a Mulan retelling, though I read it before hearing about any of this.  And while I haven’t seen Mulan, those who have generally seem to say that this book has little to do with the Disney story, so I think the controversy is more the fault of the marketers than the author, who perhaps never set out to write a Mulan inspired story?   A simple and fun read, though I’m rather surprised by the recent news that it is being made into a trilogy, as it seemed to wrap the story up pretty well.

2.  Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

What it’s About:  Set in a fantasy kingdom where bastards are kept separate from the “real” family.  A visiting princess surprises everyone by choosing to sit at the bastards table, though that shock is quickly overshadowed when the bastards and the princess become witne3sses to a crime that could change the balance of power in the world.  They set off to warn the appropriate authorities, trying to stay one step ahead of pursuers determined to silence them.

What I Thought:  Reading this book was like eating a favorite meal, but finding it a bit undercooked.  You might still enjoy it, but you can’t help but feel that it could have been better.  This was a fun enough book, but with some more engaging characters it could have had much more of an impact.

  1.  The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele

What it’s About:  A trio of comrades escape from their fantasy kingdom as it is overrun by monsters, fleeing through a portal that lands them in modern day Los Angeles.  Foster girl Liv is there when they arrive, and gets sucked into their quest to find a way to reclaim their home, only to find out that she is far more important to their goals than she could have ever imagined.

What I Thought:  While the previous four books on the list were just okay, I very much enjoyed this read.  Critical readers might find some of the plot points rather convenient, and some may be disappointed that there is very little time spent in the fantasy world, but this is a fun start to a series, and with book two coming at the end of August, there isn’t much of a wait to jump back into world.



Published by Andrew Clendening