Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
Coming of age, families, Mexican Americans, friendship, homosexuality, fiction.
There are things that Dante can do but Ari can’t and vice versa. They are very different yet odds bring them together and they bond over a shared love to help each other out whether it be swimming or understanding the universe. Along the way, they are discovering their true selves and finding a place in the world. When one of them gets into an accident this puts their newly found friendship to the test. As well as one of them moving away. When they reunite, they discover some secrets of the universe and one of them was right in front of them.
This was beautifully written about young teens just trying to find meaning in this chaotic world. I remember when I was a teenager trying to figure out the universe myself. Dante and Ari going through the emotions of ether or not they should be friends or become something more made my heart melt. This novel was written with such simplicity yet the character’s emotions and interactions were so complex as their lives that each of them come from. Dante and Ari get glimpses into each other’s lives to see where they came from which was so surreal. I enjoyed reading this book and I found out that there is a sequel. I’m excited to go find a copy to read.
Last Chance Books -Kelsey Rodkey
Romance, bookstores, competition, enemies to lovers, Young Adult, fiction.
Madeline loves her family’s owned bookstore B&M that has been passed on to the new generation to take over. Her dream is after college coming back to take over the store away from her aunt. However, the store isn’t doing so well and mostly because of the competition that’s across the street called The Prologue. Her short-term goal is to take down The Prologue. Jasper is intent on ruining the B&M yet he secretly loves Madeline but doesn’t want to come to terms with that reality. They pull some pranks on each other until he gets hit by a car forcing Madeline to be the good person and take him to the emergency room then to his house. She decides to wave the white flag of truce and realizes so much when reality hits.
I was not expecting that. I was expecting the enemies to be lovers but this hit differently. The way that Jasper acts towards Madeline reminded me of children picking on each other that made me laugh. This novel was really cute and funny. I simply enjoyed reading this book and it was one of those one sitting types of reading. It might be just me that feels this way that this was a one-sitting type of novel. I read it in one sitting because I wanted to see where this was going with Jadeline. The author made a unique book centered around rivaling bookstores with romance thrown in. I differently this novel to read. It is fun and cute.
Life and Death comparing with Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
Vampires, werewolves, romance. YA, fantasy, fiction.
I was curious and decided to read this novel as well as the other Twilight series books that are out. It became popular once again since Stephanie Meyer made Midnight Sun as of recently and currently working on a novel spin-off that takes place after Breaking Dawn staring Renesmee and Jacob. I will be comparing both this with the original work. Just know this is my opinion and everyone is entitled to have their views towards this franchise. I’m just critiquing the two works side by side. I will also reread the entire saga plus Midnight Sun. In no shape or form is this to harm the author. Just as a disclaimer. And spoilers ahead… Anyways…
This was marketed as the gender-bent Twilight version but the character is Edith as Edward’s female counterpart and Bella’s male counterpart is Beaufort. Not all characters were gender-swapped which is lazy work honestly. Edward’s parents were gender-swapped but Bella’s parents weren’t which was odd. This new form made Edith look like a mean girl with her attitude towards Beaufort. In the original version Edward came off as a douche bag but with the female counterpart, this didn’t make the novel any better.
As far as the events go, most events happen just like the original novel except for the endings. The gender-swapped one was vastly different than the original which is cheating and being ultimately lazy and a little misogynistic. Beaufort had the decision and was given it whereas Bella wasn’t allowed to choose. Basically whether or not the bite from James or whatever the female version of him turned the main character into a vampire or not. This could be the author trying to establish that men can freely choose and women can’t with this work. Either way, I was disappointed with the ending. That did bother me slightly because I was suspecting that Meyer kept the original ending but I do see the understanding to create a standalone work.
Overall, both novels weren’t my favorite since the love interest was a complete douche bag towards the main character, and the main character still chose the douche bag love interest that is a vampire. That is just how I see it because both Edith and Edward had gaslight Bella and Beaufort plus acted towards them in an unfavoring way. I still plan to read all the other works minus Twilight because I read that to do this comparison.
These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong
Retelling, Romeo and Juliet, the 1920s, shanghai, gang wars, young adult, fiction.
Juliette returns to Shanghai to take over the gang, named Scarlets. However, what is noticed is this new mysterious pandemic of individuals clawing themselves to death. She suspects it’s the Russians. Roma suspects that it is the Scarlets. Roma goes to confront Juliette and realized that this is an actual monster. He proposes that the two works together and set aside their differences to find what is killing people.
I usually don’t like to read any form of Romeo and Juliet. Yet alone to be caught dead reading a retelling. I always hated Shakespeare especially because of Romeo and Juliet. Anyways, this novel had kept popping up everywhere and was recommended to me. I found that I loved this novel. It had very thrilling writing and world-building as well as action with romance. There was serious tension between Roma and Juliette that felt surreal. I enjoyed this novel and found it immersive as well. The way the author transports the reader into the world was extraordinary.
Bone Crier’s Moon – Kathryn Purdie
Young adult, fantasy, romance, fiction.
Ailesse had been preparing for her Rite of Passage to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers. She had collected all the different bones she needed and learned all the different songs. Now she must go to the bridge to play the flute of a song that would attract her soul mate, the man whom she is destined to love and kill. Bastien was orphaned at a young age and promised to take revenge by murdering a bone crier. Sabine doesn’t like what the Bone Criers do nor their work but she must do what is expected of her. Ailesse’s mother assigns Sabine to watch her daughter’s Rite of Passage. Ailesse gets taken by her amour, Bastien, who wants revenge by taking her hostage. Sabine makes it her mission to rescue her best friend. Ailesse makes it her mission after learning about Bastien’s intentions to free him from their bond without death involved.
I had seen this while on the booktok side of TikTok and couldn’t resist the whole enemies to lovers trope. The premise doesn’t appear to be that way but it’s flushed out throughout the novel. This was one of my favorite fantasy young adult books so far. There was a perfect amount of action and fantasy along with some romance. There was a lot of tension between all the characters from the first page until the near end of the novel. The plot moved at a graceful pace that couldn’t have been more perfect. I was just sad about the cliffhanger and I have to find out if there is a sequel to the novel because this is excellent. The world-building was great and spread out just enough that it wasn’t just a lore dump in the beginning. I hate novels that do a lore dump at the beginning of the first book is the lore dump. I loved the whole enemies-to-lovers trope that is present. I can see Bastien really going for Ailesse hence I do ship it.
Ace of Shades – Amanda Foody
Young adult, science fiction, fantasy, fiction.
Enne Salta finds herself in Las Reynes to try to find her mother. She has the entire summer to find her before she must return to her finishing school. With only a name, Levi Glaisyer, she hunts him down. He is taken aback by this young woman and decides to help her for a cost. She makes an offer to him that he can’t refuse that would solve his problems. He takes the offer and helps her find her mother. As they are searching for her mother, she learns of her past that affects her future.
My boyfriend had read this novel and I couldn’t help but be curious as to why he would read this. After reading I slowly understood. The plot is really interesting as it slowly unfolded. The world is immersive and makes the reader get hooked once it picks up the pace. The diverse and rich characters involved were very unique. There were many plot twists and turns that I hadn’t expected at all which I love a good book that does that. However, the concept of a world that is sort of Las Vegas but different isn’t my type. Overall, I did enjoy the novel despite that and how slow the beginning was.
Disney Chills: Fiends on the Other Side (Book 2) – Jennifer Brody writing as Vera Strange
Disney, children’s literature, villains, fiction.
Jamal always felt like a shadow, more like in his brother’s shadow. He felt very invisible. One day he receives stuff from his grandma which was just a skull necklace. A man appears and introduces himself as Dr. Facilier. Dr. Facilier wants the necklace but Jamal doesn’t want to trade that but he was willing to trade another item. Little does Jamal know that he must never make deals with the shadow man.
This was exceptionally different and very dark for a children’s book. Like the other one there were a lot of dark themes but not too dark. I wasn’t expecting the author to continue with the same level of horror as the other one but with this one. I loved that there was a reference to the movie. The other book also has references to the movie but it was more evident in this one than the other. Altogether I enjoyed this and can’t wait to find more.
What Once Was Mine – Liz Braswell
Rapunzel, retelling, young adult, fiction.
Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion to save her life and it was what they thought was the sundrop flower. When Rapunzel was born she had silver hair that was proven deadly. The King and Queen had to face a decision that all new parents would fear is giving up their child or sending their child away. The Queen made it her quest to find a caregiver for Rapunzel and found Mother Gothel who promised to care for Rapunzel. Mother Gothel had other plans that led to Rapunzel being afraid of her hair’s powers. Rapunzel asked Mother Gothel if she could leave the tower to see the floating lanterns that happen every year on a specific date that correlated to her birthday and was told a firm no. She can’t have Rapunzel kill another person like what she had done to her parents long ago. She asks her mother to go get her something and when the coast is clear Rapunzel leaves the tower out of curiosity of what this strange man left behind to find a crown of some sort. Rapunzel goes on a quest to find someone to take her to the floating lights and has a prize for whomever. She finds Flynn Rider and Gina, both outlaws in trouble, and agrees to help Rapunzel. Along the way Rapunzel finds out the truth about her origin and the reality of her origin.
I’m a huge fan of Tangled and this twisted tale was by far the best presentation of the story being twisted. Rapunzel has magical hair that destroys or rather takes the life of whoever touches it. This blew my mind because I wasn’t expecting Gina to be included into the mix. Overall I enjoyed the characters in this form too. The plot was intriguing and kept me always on my toes. What I loved a lot about this novel was the way that it felt like The Princess Bride storytelling of someone sitting down and telling this story to someone young and in need of a good story. This story was being told by a man named Brendan to his twin sister Daniella who loves Tangled a lot and often requested to rewatch the movie. I nearly cried throughout this novel as well as laughing and going ‘aw’ a lot. This was utterly sweet and I highly recommend that one go get this novel to read. I couldn’t help but to savor this novel so I finished it within a week. I didn’t want to rush reading it because of how well it was written.
Caraval – Stephanie Garber
Young adult, games, survival, fiction.
Scarlett writes to this Legend who is in charge of the infamous Caraval. It is a game where people compete for a prize at the end. Scarlett is about to be married off to a suitor her dad chose for her and doesn’t really want to do it other than take her sister away from their very abusive father. Scarlett was given tickets to go to the Caraval and at the same time her sister, Tella, went missing. Scarlett decides to go with Julian, a man who her sister was seeing, into the game to find her sister or else something bad will happen to her sister. This game makes everyone question if it is just a game or reality.
I saw this book on book tok, a part of tiktok that is dedicated to bibliophiles, and was intrigued by the plot. I didn’t put this book down because of how it kept me intrigued with the story of how Scarlett was trying to survive Caraval plus saving her sister. There was simplicity and yet complexities to this novel. I couldn’t help but to finish this book in one sitting. This is sort of like the Hunger Games meets circus minus the teenagers being thrown into a fight but rather fleshing out parts of people and sides of people that they themselves didn’t know existed. Overall this was a small book and easy to indulge.
The Infinity Courts – Akemi Dawn Bowman
Young adult, fantasy, death, afterlife, computers, science fiction, fiction.
Nami was ready for her future until she was murdered. She died when the bank robber at the liquor store shot her. She finds herself in Infinity where the mind is alive but her body is dead. The people who greet her tell her about the war against Ophelia who has taken over the Infinity and hates humanity. Nami is the only one to help save them from disaster or their world from actually ending.
This young adult novel was one of the trendy books I saw and was instantly interested. However, the chosen one trope was what got to me but besides that everything else is really good. The storyline and plot goes smoothly. The characters and their interactions with each other were alright but the chosen one trope kept getting more annoying as the characters kept telling Nami she is the chosen one and that she should train for the ultimate fight. I was expecting better for this novel but then again the chosen one trope is heavily in most young adult novels as it is popular among that demographic. It sells right off the shelves.