Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

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Carols and Chaos is a young adult historical fiction novel written by Cindy Anstey. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have enjoyed her three previous books.

Carols and Chaos serves as a companion to Suitors and Sabotage, but each of the two books offers a very different perspective. Both books are set during the Regency era and both have young adults as their protagonists, but Suitors features members of the gentility whereas the two protagonists in Carols are servants. Upper servants, yes, but servants nonetheless.

Kate Darby has established herself as a lady’s maid. This is not to be a permanent occupation- Kate intends to open up her own dress shop one day when she has saved up enough money. The young ladies she assists are amiable, but her job is not always easy because her mother (who lives nearby) asks for help and doesn’t understand that Kate’s focus needs to be on her duties at the manor house. Kate also does not need to be distracted by the handsome Matt Harlow, who serves as valet to the Steeple brothers, who have come to stay at the house for the Yuletide season. Read more

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Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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Rule is the first book in a planned young adult fantast duology by Ellen Goodlett. I enjoy YA, but I don’t read a lot of YA fantasy. However, when the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book popped up on Netgalley, my interest was piqued.

Rule has all the hallmarks of books from the genre: lush fantasy world, chosen ones, political intrigue, and magic. The TL;DR here is that the sudden death (read: murder) of the heir apparent has made king realize his own impending mortality and the need to secure the future of his line. He has three of his illegitimate children tracked down and brought to the palace. Three girls are around the same age, but they come from vastly different parts of the kingdom. He must have been completing some sort of scorecard or something, extra points for different zones. Anyway, the girls aren’t quite sure what to make of their new circumstances, and they are each harboring a Big Secret- and it appears as though someone else knows about their secrets too. Can they trust each other? Is the fate of the kingdom at stake? Read more

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by Anthology

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Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All is a Tudor-era YA historical fiction novel. This book was already on my radar, so when I saw it on the new release shelf at my town library, I was very excited. I prefer the 19th century when choosing historical fiction; I don’t spend very much time reading fiction from this era, but I was looking forward to trying something new.

This is an anthology, with a different author telling the story of one of Henry’s six wives. I think this helps to give each of the six women a unique voice, and her personality really comes through this way. Here are the authos who contributed: Read more

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

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Been Here All Along is a young adult novel by Sandy Hall. I put this book on my “To Read” list, and then I was lucky enough to find it at my town library without having to request it through the library network.

Gideon and Kyle have been best friends and neighbors since they were five years old. They don’t share all of the same interests- Kyle plays basketball and Gideon focuses on academics- but they still love talking about things like Lord of the Rings.

Gideon realizes that his feelings for Kyle go beyond friendship. This also marks the first time that he considered his sexuality, and he doesn’t know what to do with this revelation. Kyle has already come out as bisexual, but Gideon doesn’t want to ruin his friendship with Kyle. Also, Kyle is currently dating Ruby, a cheerleader. Read more

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Before I Let Go is a young adult novel by Marieke Nijkamp. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed reading her first book, This Is Where It Ends.

Corey grew up in a small town in rural Alaska. Really small. As in, 246 people. She and her family moved away, but she has planed to go back and see her best friend Kyra. Two days before Corey’s arrival, Kyra is found dead, and everyone seems convinced that it was a suicide because of Kyra’s mental health diagnoses.

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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Autoboyography is a young adult novel written by Christina Lauren (Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). I picked up this book during an Audible sale; based on the description, it seemed like something I would like.

Tanner Scott is a bit of an outsider at his high school in Provo; not only did he not grow up in Utah, but his family is not LDS (Mormon). He’s also bisexual, although he has not been “out” since moving from California to Utah a couple of years ago. Tanner’s friend Autumn persuades him to participate in a unique class called “The Seminar”, wherein kids write a full-length book in one semester. It’s kind of a big deal around town because last year, a boy named Sebastian Brother managed to get a publishing deal for his fantasy novel. Read more

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Zombie Abbey is a young adult novel by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. I read this book a few months ago, but I am just getting around to reviewing it now. I found it on the new release shelf in the young adult section of my town library. It looked interesting, so I added it to my book pile.

As the title suggests, this book is a mashup of Downton Abbey and zombies. Basically, you have an aristocratic family in 1920s England with three teenage daughters facing a zombie outbreak. Unfortunately, this is a brand new scourge, so no one knows what to make of the mysterious happenings. The town doctor, in fact, insists that nothing is amiss, and any reports to the contrary are due to hysteria. The family and their guests- because of course they’re having a small house party- must join forces with the folk belowstairs before they are overwhelmed by the fast-moving outbreak. Read more

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

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Honestly Ben is a YA novel by Bill Konigsberg. It’s the companion/sequel to Openly Straight. Now, I haven’t read Openly Straight, but as soon as I saw Honestly Ben on the new arrivals shelf at my town library, I just had to add it to my borrowing pile.

Ben is a student at the Natick School, a prestigious boys’ boarding school in suburban Massachusetts. As an aside, this is vaguely my neck of the woods, so I was quite enchanted by the setting. Anyway, Ben has decided to focus on academics and baseball. He feels that his involvement with Rafe Goldberg the previous semester (chronicled in Openly Straight) was a phase, and as school resumes, there is a notable froideur between the pair. Everything is going well for Ben- he’s even dating a girl from the local girls’ school- but something doesn’t feel quite right. Ben needs to figure out what he needs to make himself happy, and not what will make everyone else happy. Read more

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell (editor)

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All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages is an anthology of short stories written by young adult authors geared toward a YA audience. This book was not on my radar, but as soon as I saw it on the new release shelf at my town library, I knew that I had to borrow it.

The stories in this anthology feature historical fiction from all different eras from culturally diverse LGBTQ teens. There are 17 stories, and I enjoyed reading all of them and experiencing the perspective of a new narrative. It’s hard to choose favorites, but if I had to, here are some of my favorites. This is entirely subjective, and I’m sure that a dozen other readers would likely have completely different lists if asked about their favorites. Read more

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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People Like Us is a young adult novel written by Dana Mele. I read this book a while ago, but I am woefully behind with my review writing. I had heard about this book, and so I requested it via my library network.

It is an absolute nightmare when the body of a student turns up in the lake on the campus of the exclusive Bates Academy, but for Kay Donovan, it’s just the beginning. She receives a message from the dead girl, instructing her to confront her friends, and if Kay fails to comply, there will be consequences. It seems as though everyone is keeping secrets, but the biggest secret of all is how the girl ended up in the lake in the first place. Could Kay be implicated for the crime? Read more